Tag Archive | Rebecca Sugar

“Everything Stays” Review

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Original Airdate: November 16, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Hanna K. Nyström

I was a bit nervous that Stakes would be limited to merely laying out the backstory of Marceline over the course of 8 episodes, and boy am I glad that it isn’t. While I’m always interested in finding out new details within Marceline’s past, I can’t think of anything more boring than having her entire past history explored and leaving nothing up to interpretation. Thankfully, the deepest dive we get into Marceline’s backstory is within Everything Stays, and it provides the audience with bits and pieces relating to Marceline’s past, without putting all of the pieces together. Thus, we’re provided with new information, but our imagination is still capable of doing a lot of the work. It’s also really nice to get an episode that’s devoted to exploring Earth after the Mushroom War, and how it affected the psyche and wellbeing of our fellow humans, as well as that of Marceline.

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Pretty basic to say, but I really adore that beginning scene between Marceline and her mother. Of course, I had already seen this bit about 50 times before the episode aired because it was shown at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015, but regardless, it makes for one of the most poignant moments in the series. While we haven’t received any actual information regarding Marceline’s mother up until this point, it’s so nice that her only appearance in the series features her being as loving and caring as possible. I myself haven’t come up with a completely solid and well-thought out theory regarding what happened to Marcy’s mom, or even how she ended up getting married to a shyster like Hunson, but regardless, I’m very interested in creating those answers after seeing how close the two were. Rebecca Sugar does a splendid job in her first role as a voice actor. I somewhat thought this casting choice was odd at first, because it was hard for me to separate the voice actor from the voice, but I gradually grew fond of her performance. Sugar has this really passionate, genuine, caring voice and attitude that captures Marcy’s mom perfectly. And of course, the song is perfect as well, which was also written by Sugar. A terrific representation of youth, growing, and the series itself that never seems to wear on me. It was great to see Sugar actually sing outside of a demo version, and the visuals that go along with the tune really tug at the heart strings. Marceline gently gripping her mom tighter as the song goes along is a small detail that gets me every time.

Cutting to something as equally sad, we’re treated to an actual revelation of how Ice King ended up leaving Marceline. I mentioned in the last review about how this miniseries could tend to be riddled with awkward funny moments that often tarnish the emotional weight of the individual moments it presents, but Ice King is typically the type of character to subvert that method. I think Ice King filming the tape (that Finn and Jake watch in Holly Jolly Secrets – Part II) and then immediately shouting, “okay, bye!!” is pretty hilarious, while still remaining tragic. Part of Simon is still very much there and functioning as he mutters all that he can remember about his own life and Betty, though Ice King pretty much reigns supreme at this point. We don’t know what drove Simon overboard to the point where he decided to leave, but if anything is certain, the general gist of his decision is in clear eye: he’s a danger to Marceline. I think this scene is nicely executed, but it’s probably the only bit in the episode that I feel as though I could have gone without seeing. All of the information dished out is stuff that we already kind of knew about or could have gathered from the context clues in I Remember You. I guess I always pictured Marceline and Simon departing each other as especially devastating, while this bit just came across as mildly sad. That was probably the fault of my own headcanon at the time, but as I mentioned, this bit is handled fine and I don’t really have any big gripes with it. It just mostly feels like I’m reliving my feelings towards Simon & Marcy once more.

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Cutting to the next flashback is some new information that the series, or even any spin-off material, hasn’t really touched on up until this point: Marceline’s teen years. I wanna reiterate how cool it is that the writing staff chose to explore a story regarding Marceline’s character that has never been explored before. While I’m sure a ton of people (including myself) were wondering how exactly Marceline became a vampire, I don’t think many people were especially curious about her teen years, given that there was sooo much established within her childhood, and her later years of which she spent with Princess Bubblegum. But, Everything Stays takes a much more challenging route, by dishing out some really nice new information regarding Marcy’s character and her past. I’m not really into Marceline’s Mohawk-mullet combo, but I think it totally suits her teen-angsty self. I also love The Fool’s small role in this episode; I don’t know if I’d really call The Fool my favorite of the vampires, just because they’re all so unique and interesting in their own individual ways, but The Fool is certainly the funniest of the bunch, with some terrific voice acting from Ron Funches. Adventure Time‘s tendency towards juvenile humor is typically met with decent results, but Funches excels with it. He really gets me with even the dumbest of lines, such as, “I look like a buuuutt.” And how neat is it that Marceline actually utilizes the soul sucking abilities that she does possess? Even if she rarely acknowledges the fact that she is half-demon, it is cool to see that it isn’t just a random attribute of her character and that it actually does come into play in regards to how she obtains her various different abilities.

Moving forward, I really enjoy how paranoid the humans are portrayed to be in reference to any possible threat that faces them. After the literal apocalypse that led to dozens of different creatures being unleashed into the world, it makes sense as to why human beings would have such little trust or the ability to understand anyone outside of their species. You feel bad for Marcy, because it seems like she’s the only outsider in this world that actually wants to preserve the greater good for humans, but also understand why these humans want to avoid potential dangers as it is. The return of the animal hats was a nice touch, and it’s cool to see that they actually have a purpose and method of safety beyond just looking silly and/or hiding gils. The established human characters are fun; I think it’s especially sweet that Two Bread Tom is voiced by Tom Kenny, as it seems like a nice tribute to the talented VA whether it was intentional or not. I also think that the Bunny Girl (who is later named Jo in the Islands graphic novel) is a nice additional as well, and provides for some genuinely cute moments. Kind of cool how the Bunny Girl is voiced by Ava Acres, who also voices young Marcy. I get the feeling that Marceline sees a lot of her younger self within the little girl, which is alluded to especially with the voice acting. The way that the Mr. Belvedere theme song is clearly not as tragic as the Cheers theme song’s usage in Simon & Marcy, nor does it try to be, but it’s still enjoyable regardless. Pretty funny that Two Bread Tom wants to keep the stories of olden times relevant by singing the theme song of a corny sitcom from the 80’s. Also loved Schwabl’s small role in this one, just because that dog doesn’t get enough damn attention in this show.

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One thing that’s really been consistently great about Stakes so far is its visual flare, and this episode is no exception. The backgrounds are especially nice and never stagnant, as almost every scene within Everything Stays has some sort of shift in the color scheme in one way or another. Something as simple as changing how the sky reflects the shading of the characters is a really nice touch that keeps the episode feeling fresh throughout its entire course. The animation also picks up during Marceline’s fight sequence with the vampires who oppose her, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I thought Marceline and Two Bread Tom’s exchanges on the boat felt truly bittersweet, as the episode sought to accomplish. TBT’s fear of all the threats that face humanity (including “hungry-looking rainbows”; very nice touch/callback!) on this continent kind of puts into perspective on how massive the Earth is beyond Ooo. While I have no doubt that the entire Earth was forever changed by the Mushroom War, it is cool to think that there are possibilities for places within the world of Adventure Time where magic and crazy characters aren’t especially prominent. Of course, this would be elaborated on more in the next miniseries, but this is a great starting point. It is sad to think that Marceline could’ve been offered a home of comfort and solace away from all of the troubles of her past if she had chosen to go with Two Bread Tom and the other crew of humans before the vampires attacked. Though, since the island is later proven to be an area that is relatively close-minded among its population, things may have not fared well for Marceline in her path to acceptance.

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The eventual fight between Marceline and Hierophant (another one of my favorite vamps) is very enticing, and provides for some really fun banter in between. I mentioned in my review of Marceline the Vampire Queen that Marcy’s quirkier moments come off a little more awkwardly than any other character in the series, but man, Olivia Olsen’s reading of, “blaaaah, I don’t care!” was truly hilarious. Marceline’s humorous side benefits almost entirely from her passion towards mockery. It’s also cool to explore what exactly Hierophant’s powers provide for him; I almost disregarded Marceline’s usage of shapeshifting in Varmints as a continuity error, though I feel like this episode justifies it from seeing how many opportunities that Hierophant has in that department.

The episode leaves off on a great note, as the flashback sequence comes to an end, while building tension and anticipation regarding the identity of the Vampire King. I was excited to see what would happen in the next entry, as Marceline is left with the fact that her vampirism seems to be cured, and that the vampires she once faced are revived as a result. Jake’s face at the end really sums it all up.

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Everything Stays is great. It’s a lore-heavy episode that focuses entirely on dishing out new information, rather than leaning too heavily on what we already know about Marceline. This one also has a pretty solid atmosphere; there’s a real feeling of longing and melancholy throughout, as we explore Marceline’s confusing teen years and what’s left of humanity as we know it. It’s storytelling at it’s absolute finest, focusing on entertainment and what is important for the audience to know, without feeling too cluttered by exposition. It’s also a great debut for Swedish storyboard artist Hanna K. Nyström, who would go on to work on some truly great episodes (and some not so great ones) along the way.

Everything Stays resulted in a lot of great opportunities regarding spin-off material. The life of Jo (the bunny girl), Two Bread Tom, and the other humans is expanded upon in the Islands graphic novel (which I may eventually review on this blog) and the 2015 Adventure Time Spoooktacular elaborates on Marceline’s battle with The Moon. The 2015 Spoooktacular was also illustrated and written by Nyström. Check ’em both out if you haven’t, they’re great!

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Favorite line: “Ah, so good! I had a hoagie for lunch!”

“Simon & Marcy” Review

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Original Airdate: March 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

“There’s so much that exists outside of show because it’s a post-apocalyptic future, which means that the present exists in the reality of this show. You have to extend this whole world back into the past and every that’s happening in it is real, and there’s so much that you didn’t see that’s implied to have happened, and that becomes real, but it also becomes something that you invent. So you have a personal ownership over everything that created Ooo, and it really does feel like your imagination because it’s asking you to imagine so much of it and connect all these dots.”

If this Rebecca Sugar quote sounds familiar to you, that’s because I used it for reference back in my I Remember You review to show how eloquently it went with the theme of the episode. Interestingly enough, this is a quote that I actually think works more against this episode than supports what it was going for. Yeah, this is one where my opinion might come off a little pretentious and douche-y. Whereas people have regarded I Remember You as the “really good episode that isn’t as good as everyone says it is,” that’s somewhat how I feel about Simon & Marcy. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hard to argue that this episode isn’t at least good, but that is to say that it’s one I do have a lot of problems with, though this may just be on a personal level. Let’s dig right into it.

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First off, let’s address the bits I don’t like, and then we’ll gradually work our way towards the good stuff. I think my biggest issue with this episode is simply that, well, it’s one of Adventure Time‘s least surprising entries. This isn’t one where I was disappointed because it didn’t go the way I had wanted to, because that would simply be unfair to the episode itself, but this is one where I was disappointed because it went EXACTLY how I expected. And honestly, that’s a pretty surprising feat for any Adventure Time episode. Even an episode like I Remember You, where we all knew that Ice King and Marceline’s backstory would be explored in some shape or form, the way it was presented, as well as it being the most raw AT experience to date, was intriguing, to say the least. This one just plays as a straightforward backstory episode, and it’s certainly not presented badly at all, yet, it really makes me question the intent and purpose of this episode if it was just going to simply show us what we already could’ve pieced together on our own. Future episodes like Evergreen or Bonnibel Bubblegum, were both mainly backstory focused episodes, but they had their own unique twists and turns that saved them from potential predictability. Here, I could kind of gather exactly where it was going to go, what it had to say, and how the characters and relationship would be portrayed by the first second. It just seems a little too standard for Adventure Time‘s… standards.

Like the quote at the beginning of this post suggests, part of the fun of Adventure Time is piecing together the parts of the show we don’t see. We never got to see how PB and Marceline became friends, but we still believe that they were close and are even able to share our own interpretations of how they got together and how they eventually separated. Similarly, we’ve never seen an episode of Simon and Betty’s married life, though we know they were in love and we feel the tragedy of their relationship regardless. Likewise, Simon and Marcy are two characters who, even without seeing this episode, you can gather a lot of their backstory from just looking at the evidence already at hand: Simon found Marceline during the fallout of the apocalypse, took care of her until the crown took over, and separated from Marcy for thousands of years. You can gather all of that from just simply watching I Remember You. So in a way, I think this one actually shows a little too much and goes beyond how much I actually feel like I’d need or want to see in terms of the Simon and Marcy arc, or, in a contradicting sense, not enough. It shows a good chunk, but nothing where I feel like I learned anything new or I’ve gained more insight into the actual Simon and Marcy story.

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And I wouldn’t mind it as much if the episode was a little more complex, say, if it had bits of Marcy and Simon’s relationship throughout a period of months (similar to the journal entries from Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook, how dope would that be?) but instead we’re left with what I consider to be a somewhat low stakes adventure as Simon tries to find chicken soup for Marceline and battles off oozers in the process. I think the boundaries could’ve been pushed even further, with Marceline’s sickness being more crucial than it seemed, and the inevitability of surviving after the war coming into question. Go full on Grave of the Fireflies on our asses! But again, that’s me wanting something from this episode that it clearly isn’t trying to accomplish. It’s trying to be a lighter tale that Marceline tells the boys and Ice King in order to keep the spirit of her and Simon’s relationship alive. But again, I really question whether this is the kind of expedition I wanted to see from the two old pals or if I actually learned anything new.

There’s also some nitpicks I have as well, mainly from a writing perspective. I think a lot of lines that they give Simon come off as really clunky and confusing on occasions. Probably the worst line of dialogue in the entire episode is when Simon first puts on the crown and states, “YOU WILL NO LONGER TERRIFY A 47-YEAR-OLD MAN AND A 7-YEAR-OLD GIRL.” I know it’s supposed to be Ice King speaking, and yeah, he’s crazy and everything, but by God, who the fuck talks like that? That line literally only exists to give us a frame of time as to how old Simon and Marcy are, and I wish they could’ve done away with it completely. Aside from that, there’s parts where… I think Simon is being quirky, but I can’t tell if that’s what they were going for or if it’s supposed to further show how he’s transforming into the Ice King. For example, the scene where he’s singing to Marceline, or when he asks her if she’d like a ride on his back. Like, I guess you could kind of suggest either; that he was being goofy and charming towards Marcy, or he was losing it a little bit while the crown took over, but I can never figure out which I’m supposed to feel. I guess that’s what makes it interesting, but it’s more confusing than intriguing for myself.

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Alright, before y’all raise your pitchforks and torches and burn me at the stake, I do LIKE this episode. The main factor that I enjoy about it is, surprise, surprise, the relationship between Simon and Marceline. They really are just adorable to watch, and yeah, it’s everything I expected them to be, but it still is enlightening to see them work off of each other so well. I honestly can’t praise Ava Acres enough, but she really does such a tremendous job portraying young Marcy. Everything she does, says, and feels is extremely endearing, and I really enjoy whenever she’s able to have some sort of part on the show. And I love how much this episode hammers in that Simon needs Marceline as much as Marcy needs him. Without Marceline, Simon would most likely have just given into the crown, and not even attempted to fight off its power, but he fights and does his all to make sure that Marceline’s safe. It’s a pretty beautiful relationship that the two have, and in contrast to my bitching prior, it really is what saves this episode and helps it land on its feet.

In addition to great voice acting from Acres, Tom Kenny does a superb job at giving Simon a quiet, likable charm to him. Just as Holly Jolly Secrets proved, Kenny is capable of more than just silly voices and wacky characters, and when he pulls off a competently serious performance, it really knocks things out of the ballpark. This is really the first time we get to see Simon in a full length episode as well, and aside from those moments I mentioned above, I do like how he’s portrayed as somewhat of an awkward father figure. I’d even suggest that, most of the time, he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. Of course, he puts his all into caring for Marceline no matter what it is, but instances such as when he’s trying to ride the motorcycle, which backfires, or the simple solution that he legitimately does believe that chicken soup will cure Marcy of her illness, shows that he isn’t the most competent person in his position, but it really only adds to his charm and likability. He most likely wasn’t ready to be a “father”, but pretty much had to given the circumstances around him.

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And my polarizing views aside, this one does have one of my favorite AT moments off all time, which is the inclusion of the Cheers theme song. Besides being an avid fan of Cheers myself, the way it’s used by Simon as a method of keeping his sanity and holding onto his own reality is quite brilliant and incredibly powerful to watch. The entire sequence is like a suckerpunch to the gut; as Simon softly begins the song, it quickly transpires into a frantic and violent melody that gets more distorted as it goes on, and then quickly returns to soft and solemn on the line “Where everybody knows your name,” where Simon realizes that he doesn’t even remember his own name, or at this point, Marcy’s for that matter. It’s a tragic scene that uses once again uses raw emotion and music to convey some really sound emotional drama.

There’s also some little bits I get into a lot, mostly with the backgrounds. This one is eye-candy galore, with some really nice debris and wreckage in the background that just really sucks ya into this apocalyptic world, and for the most part, it’s all visually interesting. I think pretty much all of us have that bridge implanted in our subconscious somewhere. While some of the humor can be a little awkward and out of place, some gags do get a laugh out of me. I like the birthday cards they have inside the soupery, and the Clambulance, as stupid as it is, is such a bizarre idea that I can’t help but snicker at the very concept of it. Also, some nice little chunks of lore with the inclusion of the gooey, bubblegum substance, which we wouldn’t really understand the meaning of until Bonnie & Neddy. Or Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW, if you got through the boring redundancy of that game, or just watched it on YouTube.

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So overall, despite what seems like many, many issues I have with this one, I do like it to a degree, just not as much as most people do. From a personal standpoint, the episode as a whole kind of defies what I believe is the fun, imaginative aspect of piecing parts together in the world of Adventure Time, but I am glad that we got to see the wonderful relationship that is Simon and Marcy. I could’ve easily believed they were as close as they’re portrayed without this episode, but it is nice that it exists for all the people who wanted to see what they were like together. It just so happens that it played out exactly how I thought it would and that hurt the element of surprise that AT so often excels at, but everything I expected is really sweet and enjoyable, and I’d be wrong to say that Simon and Marcy are portrayed badly otherwise. This was Rebecca Sugar’s last episode during her time on the show, and I think it was a goal for her to nuke us with emotional goodness for her final episode. It goes a little bit overboard and is slightly distracting for me, but I’m glad she left fans with such a sweet, heavy, tune filled episode that is pretty much everything any Adventure Time fan has ever wanted from Sugar. Nevertheless, thank you for some terrific entries the past few seasons, Rebecca! Your presence on the show is truly appreciated by all (sometimes to a pretty extreme degree). I conclude this review with a beautifully written selection of panels from Adventure Time Comics Issue #16, featuring Simon and Marceline. It made my heart grow heavy.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, lay down, Marceline, go to sleep! Right? What are we talking about?”

 

 

“Bad Little Boy” Review

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Original Airdate: February 18, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Bad Little Boy is perhaps the last enjoyable episode in the Fionna and Cake saga. That’s not to say the later episodes don’t have their redeemable moments, but I think this is the last one I’d consider to be legitimately “good,” or at least enjoyable. Not to say that this one isn’t without it’s problems, though.

I really enjoy the silly beginning with Ice King’s purposely terrible Fionna and Cake vs. Dr. Prince escapade, though I really am not sure if this works with the overall continuity of Ice King as the author of Fionna and Cake. I mean, it seems like something Ice King would write, yet the story told in Fionna and Cake was a legitimately captivating and well-written story, ludicrous ending aside. And then you have Five Short Tables where, enjoyability factor aside, was also a very well-written, coherent story from the Ice King. So I’m not really sure I’m fully behind the idea of the IK being a shitty writer, because again, it’s been contradicted both in the past and the future. But bitching aside, this was a fun beginning, and I do really love how Ice King is just casually reading to a group of captured princesses. Honestly, rewatching these episodes, I’ve really never realized how fucking bad Wildberry Princess has it. I mean, I think she’s gotta be the most frequently captured princess in the entire series. And Ice King doesn’t even like her that much! Poor chick has to deal with silver fox trauma almost everyday.

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The reactions to Ice King’s awful tale is where Marceline comes in, and I think it’s really cute that she was just chillin’ around the castle and spying on him. This is the first post-I Remember You interaction between the two, and it’s heartening to know that she already is comfortable enough with being around him that she doesn’t mind dropping by every now and then. And I appreciate how this episode is just them hanging out without any mention of their past history together. It’s nice to just see them shoot the shit for once.

Once Marceline’s story starts, it is nice to once again see Fionna, Cake, and Prince Gumball. Despite my feelings on the F&C episodes as a whole, I do appreciate these characters and the dynamic they share with each other. For instance, I like how Fionna is actually the one who’s kind of fed up with Gumball. The first episode established her as a strong female character WHO DON’T NEED NO MAN, and I’m glad this episode followed up with also showing off her general annoyance with Gumball’s prissiness. Also, this is sadly the last time we get to hear that lovely Neil Patrick Harris voice portray Gumball. This is why celebrity guest voices never work for recurring characters (looking at you, Lena Dunham.)

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Speaking of celebrity voice actors, Donald Glover portrays Marshall Lee in this episode, and man, is it spot on! I recall back to that terrific fan-animated video featuring Marshall Lee and I remember thinking, “I hope the actual Marshall Lee sounds like that.” And I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but Glover captures that exact tone and deliverance perfectly, while also adding a bit of experience and flare to his performance. Lee as a character is very enjoyable as well; he’s basically Marceline as a playful douche, but one that’s a lot of fun in that regard. I enjoy his carefree dickishness (“I know you’re gonna say yes to me, so let’s just go.”) and I think it makes a lot of sense that Marceline would portray herself as a carefree badass. Obviously she’s a lot more caring and sensitive than she puts on, but we’re still at a point in the series where she hasn’t completely sacrificed her laidback facade.

Good Little Girl/Bad Little Boy are sadly Rebecca Sugar’s last original songs during her time on the show (yeah, yeah, I know we still have Everything Stays, but that was long after she left the series) and it definitely hits on all that Sugar charm that makes her tunes so catchy and enjoyable. I’m not one of those people who thinks that Sugar leaving the show was some catastrophic event that ruined the series, but damn, did the show suffer song wise after her departure. I can count on one hand all of the AT songs I enjoy post season 5.2, while I can count all the songs I don’t like on one hand from the first five seasons. A shame, really.  Nevertheless, Good Little Girl is an enjoyable vocal and visual entry. I like all the genderbent characters that attend the concert, including new visitors, such as Ms. Pig and the female Marauaders. I also crack up at the fact that Lumpy Space Prince’s voice is identical to his female counterpart, which is later acknowledged, but I think it works best here. Also, I can’t get enough of Cake shaking her rump and singing about her hot potatoes. That was priceless.

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The dynamic between Fionna, Marshall, and Cake works great as well. Again, I think Fionna is a little more mature and level-headed than our boy Finn, so it’s cool to see her fuck around with Marshall and not really fall for any of his bullshit, whereas Marceline usually leaves Finn hopelessly confused. Even strengthening her maturity is the idea that Fionna will allow Marshall to mess with her as much as possible, but once he messes with Cake, she don’t fuck around. This then transitions into the next song, where Marshall captures Cake and lays down some hardcore bars with his skeleton bros in a graveyard. This song isn’t quite as enjoyable or memorable as Good Little Girl, but it is nice for the show to utilize Glover to his fullest potential by giving him a chance to rap at all. And a pretty solid one, at that! Weird Al Yankovic still has yet to put out anything tolerably enjoyable during his time as Banana Man.

This conflict leads to some pretty gruesome shit where Marshall gets stabbed, which, even though it’s fake, is still pretty explicit for the show to feature. I do appreciate how the big emotional scene is just kind of treated as total bullshit and Fionna once again has the upper hand on the maturity scale, but it is kind of weird to see this coming from Marceline’s perspective. I love the idea that Marshall thinks Fionna is, “the realest person [he] has ever met,” which could easily be attributed toward Marcy’s perception of Finn, though the idea that Marshall Lee kinda puts on this attitude that Fionna is infatuated with him is… kind of strange, right? I assume Marceline doesn’t think this way about Finn, but why would she insert a quasi-romance between the two if it didn’t even cross her mind? Probably reading way too far into it, but it just is somewhat odd writing that I’m not sure I can ever really understand fully. I actually think I would’ve liked it better if the entire story was from Ice King’s perspective and it turns out he was reading to Marceline the entire time.

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However, the story ends, and Ice King is visibly disappointed with the turnout. Again, not sure I understand why, as it seems almost completely identical to the first F&C story, but I’ll let it slide. I do enjoy him kicking everyone out and taking time to praise his Fionna and Cake ice shrines, even if I still believe this one would’ve made more sense before Mystery Dungeon.

Overall though, I think this one is decent. I think there’s some definite lulls; as much as I enjoy the beginning scene with the IK, it makes the actual F&C story seem a lot more frantically paced. I mean, the actual story doesn’t start till about three and a half minutes in, and while it does contain plenty of enjoyable moments, it just feels like it’s on fast forward. I do genuinely enjoy Marshall Lee and his interactions with Fionna and Cake, so a bit more time and focus on the actual story would’ve been much appreciated. This is a particularly nice looking episode, however. The backgrounds are great! Love the lighting in the concert sequence, the eeriness of the graveyard, and the sunrise that befalls Marshall, Fionna, and Cake. It all visually looks really impressive. Aside from the visuals, interactions, and a good chunk of funny moments, this episode doesn’t really live up to its predecessor, and the entire F&C saga kinda dies after this one. Sad to see that such  highly regarded element of the series only has two good episodes out of five, but Fionna and Cake is simply a concept that doesn’t have a ton of room to grow outside of the first episode. But, for now, I’ll enjoy the tasty remnants of this one, and prepare for the bad taste that The Prince Who Wanted Everything will eventually leave me with.

Favorite line: “Wildberry, don’t pretend; I know you like the silver foxes.”

“Jake the Dog” Review

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Original Airdate: November 12, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Onto Jake the Dog! Without going into too much detail already, I think it’s safe to say that this episode is an improvement over the last one. Does that make it good? Ehhh, well, let’s dive deeper.

I did mention at the end of the review that I was anticipating more of Prismo, who to this date is one of my favorite secondary characters, for no other reason than the fact that he’s just a cool dude. I like his laidback, charismatic attitude, his voice work, courtesy of Kumail Nanjiani and his willingness to help others, despite his obligations as a wishmaster. He’s always a very enjoyable presence, and this episode highlights everything that’s so likable about his character, and why he’s so fun to be around. I like his connection with Jake especially, and feel that, besides F&J and PB & Marcy, they make for one of the greatest friendships in the series (yes, I just called PB and Marceline friends. Please don’t verbally eviscerate me).

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This one essentially contains an A-plot and a B-plot, so, while I’m on the subject of Prismo, lemme go into detail about Jake’s side of the story. The episode is called Jake the Dog for a reason, it emphasizes some of the most well-defined aspects of his personality: his carefree attitude, his laziness, and his desire to be leisurely and kick back with others. To a degree, I think it does all three of those a little too well. I’m on the side of the crowd that believes that Jake is a little too selfish and a little too stupid in this one for my own liking. I get that the titles Finn the Human and Jake the Dog are supposed to highlight Finn and Jake’s differences: Finn’s nobility, desire to do good, and undying devotion for others contrasts with Jake’s own wants and needs, but at the same time, a large part of Jake’s character is his devotion to his best friend as well. Jake was willing to latch onto the fucking Lich two episodes ago for the sake of the world, and it’s honestly frustrating to watch him so blatantly ignore his brother’s alternate self (who is technically his current self) crumbling around him. The idea that all Jake wants to wish for is a sandwich is quite funny, but not when his friend’s life is on the line.

It’s honestly just poor context for the scenario, because I really enjoy Jake’s time chilling with Prismo and the Cosmic Owl. It’s so silly in its own right – that two cosmic beings are just casually sitting around, eating cheesy snack in a hot tub, and playing board games. It really is an excellent example of what makes each and every character so great in AT; even some of the most highly regarded beings in the universe can be just as goofy and “normal” as our two main boys. I like Jake giving Prismo relationship advice as well, showing us how different Prismo is in regards to Jake’s optimistic and honest relationship with his own girlfriend. I get the feeling that the reason Prismo is so nice and friendly is the fact that he does get lonely. He’s restricted to the confines of his timeline and probably only gets to speak to “singulars” when they want something from him. Prismo finally found someone who’s interested in just hanging out, and not someone who’s using him for his own personal gain.

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But, as I said, because of the circumstances, all of the scenes featuring Jake and friends feel unnecessarily cruel and inappropriate in relation to all of the scenes featuring Farmworld Finn. And, unlike the previous episode, I’m actually invested in Farmworld Finn’s dilemma and emotional state this time around. The two stories are interlaced so awkwardly that the combination of humor and drama really kind of falls flat, which is something AT is typically terrific with in terms of blending genres and moods.

I wouldn’t be so critical of it if the Farmworld Finn aspect wasn’t interesting, but this time around, it’s really freakin’ entertaining. I definitely expected tons of apocalyptic references from this episode, but tying the ice crown back into these themes is really intriguing. From the moment that Finn puts it on, it’s changing faster and more drastically than it did for Simon. Why? Well, two possible reasons. One is that Finn is young and still inexperienced, and his impressionable mind was altered faster than Simon, who is full of knowledge and life experience. Second, it could be that, while Simon strongly resisted the power of the crown, Finn accepted it and allowed it to take over his mind. Of course, the simple answer is probably that there’s only so much inner turmoil that could’ve been covered with Farmworld Finn in the course of seven minutes, but it’s still an interesting thought to be analyzed. The stuff we do get with Farmworld Finn is really powerful and tragic regardless.

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Despite my complaints that Farmworld Finn was difficult to empathize with in the last episode, it really is tough to sit through the hardships and insanity he experiences, especially with his family. One of the most impactful moments of Jake the Dog is Finn’s conversation with his family. The interactions between Finn and his mother are sad enough, as that connection has proved to be the strongest out of Farmworld Finn’s relationships, but the most effective reaction from his family derives from his baby sibling. Or, more so, Finn’s reaction to his baby sibling’s crying. I love how control of the crown does connect to caring and loving for another being, so when Finn sees that his brother is noticeably upset, he does what he must to save his family from the power of the crown, yet does not take it off. It’s a subtle, but powerful moment that really emphasizes the greatest flaws of the crown: the wearer may be able to save everyone around him/her, but won’t be able to resist the urge to wear the crown.

Once the mutagenic bomb does set off (featuring the infamous animation error of the crown still being placed on Simon’s skeleton) things get even darker and grittier, as Finn beholds a disintegrating Marceline and the mutated remains of his pet dog. Finn’s demeanor and behavior transpire into pure insanity, which is both really entertaining and also somewhat horrifying. I have to give it to Jeremy Shada, this may be one of his best voice acting efforts in the entire series. Not to imply that he’s ever performed badly, but he so magnificently emulates the Ice King mannerisms, as well as the breaking fear and sadness in Finn’s voice, making for a really, really powerful performance. The bit with Finn fearfully crawling back from Jake as he transforms into the Lich cuts me deeply inside. It also raises an interesting question: was the Lich created from the mutagenic bomb, or did he simply arise once again from the destruction of the bomb? As further episodes suggest, he’s existed as long as the universe, if not longer, so I’m assuming he’s been defeated and silenced time and time again, only to arise and cause destruction once more.

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Drawing towards the end, in a return to Jake and Prismo’s antics, Jake conducts the perfect wish to ultimately retcon the mishaps around him. It’s a bit underwhelming to have everything return to normal after this entire arc, even if there are lasting effects that will return later on, but unfortunately, we won’t be seeing anything from this selection of stories for quite sometime. So by its end, Jake the Dog does have Jake showing off his heroic side by saving the day for everyone, but sadly, I think it was a little too late in the episode for me to root for him.

When it comes down to it, this one is just decent in my eyes. I know this is one people like a ton, and that’s understandable! As I mentioned, there’s some really juicy bits in this episode. Farmworld Finn’s experiences with the ice crown are more than enough to justify this existence of this episode, with really nice animation, design, backgrounds, emotion, voice acting, and, especially, lore. Unfortunately for me, the Jake parts weaken a majority of the stronger plot points. The pacing, as I mentioned, is really sporadic, and dampen the emotional and intense roots of the A-plot. The ending also feels like the entire journey was worth nothing; I’m not someone who believes that Adventure Time needs to be a completely serialized show and that anything good is strictly plot related, but if you’re going to drop a three-part epic about the Lich on us, I’d expect a bit more of a lasting impact than just returning to the wacky and goofy antics of the characters of Ooo an episode later and not touching on any of these issues for a whole 52 episodes. I’m still satisfied with the bit of excitement we got while exploring the Farmworld, and its content still resonates with me greatly even if the entire episode does not.

Favorite line: “Here, eat this egg. It’s brain food.”

“I Remember You” Review

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Original Airdate: October 15, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

“There’s so much that exists outside of show because it’s a post-apocalyptic future, which means that the present exists in the reality of this show. You have to extend this whole world back into the past and every that’s happening in it is real, and there’s so much that you didn’t see that’s implied to have happened, and that becomes real, but it also becomes something that you invent. So you have a personal ownership over everything that created Ooo, and it really does feel like your imagination because it’s asking you to imagine so much of it and connect all these dots.”

An eloquently put statement from Rebecca Sugar about Adventure Time’s success that can really be applied to this episode in particular. Ah, I Remember You. Where do I even start with this episode that’s considered damn-near perfect by nearly everyone who has ever seen it? Well, for starters, I actually don’t think it’s entirely perfect. There’s definitely some parts that drag, some parts that don’t seem to add anything, and even Ice King can grate on being borderline annoying at times. But even that said, there’s no denying the passion, the raw emotion, and the beautiful connection that was created between two of the show’s most tragic characters make it difficult even for me to deny this as one of AT’s greatest efforts.

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I think it’s been somewhat evident this season that the Cole Sanchez-Rebecca Sugar duo is, at worst, a bit dissonant from each other. They’ve created some of the best episodes this season had to offer, but also just felt much more separated in tone than the Muto-Sugar duo combination. It’s not to say Sanchez suffers from poor writing himself, but always seemed to dabble more in Adventure Time’s sillier side. There’s nothing wrong with this, but, as is, it can be quite a contrast in even just the simple squishy and stretchy expressions of Finn and Jake to the endless amounts of detail Sugar adds when drawing them, sometimes making it feel like a jarring experience.Here, it works to the duo’s advantage.

Here, in the very first scene, we open to Ice King singing a very poor adaptation of Marceline’s “Fry Song” which is just the kind of silly opening that’s warranted with the emotional rollercoaster that’s on the way, and evident why we need a scene like this. We don’t only care about Ice King because he’s a sad soul who lost his former self, but because he’s zany and enjoyable to be around. And that’s not to say it’s even a distinction in writing style; it’s not like Rebecca Sugar isn’t one to dabble in Ice King’s antics and purely sees him as a completely tragic character. It’s common sense among the AT staff that, to care about these characters when issues arise and life hits hard, we first must be able to laugh at them, have fun with them, and genuinely enjoy being around them. And Ice King is pretty much the epitome of that archetype, literally revolving on all ends of the spectrum: funny, nonsensical, endearing, sad, lonely, and sympathetic.

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There’s plenty of fun gags at the start, namely Gunter’s adorable pet-like behavior, the umpteenth mention of J.T. Doggzone in two episodes, and the humorous exchange between Finn and Jake. I think the boys are really used as point to showcase the significance in Ice King’s transition from creepy villain to incompetent ally. There’s very few times after this episode where Finn and Jake legitimately go as far as to spy on him (though, it’ll take a lot longer for them to actually warm up to him) and it’s blown up in their own faces when they realize, at heart, Ice King is just an eccentric goofball. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone or destroy all of Ooo, but instead desires faithful companions to be at his side.

It’s when Marceline enters the scene (sporting a tucked in anti-smoking shirt, which is surprisingly one of my favorite Marcy outfits, mainly for it’s simplicity) that the tension begins to heat up. The first interaction between Marcy and the IK harkens back to Sugar’s statement, as Marceline claims “I told you never to come here again,” implying this has happened several times in the past, which is only further emphasized in Marceline’s Nuts song. The reason Marceline has moved around so frequently is either partially or directly related to Ice King continuously coming to visit her or spy on her, something that was used as just a quirky character trait of hers way back in season one, but now comes full circle as a result of her deteriorating friend she can no longer stand to be around. One can only imagine the types of interactions they’ve had before; it’s debatable what kind of relationship they have had before this, but it’s clear that Ice King does have some form of admiration for the Vampire Queen, which may be because he does subconsciously remember her a slight bit. Even more devastating, you can draw the parallels that perhaps Ice King has always seen her as a potential royal stereotype that he has attempted to kidnap before. No matter what the likelihood of any of these theories are, it does allow the viewer to put the pieces together however they like, and for me, it’s one that, no matter what context, is always tragic.

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From this point, the episode practically becomes one big musical. While I did enjoy What Was Missing quite fondly, you may recall in my review that I mentioned Sugar’s style of writing, especially in terms of musical score, pretty much dominated the episode and felt more like an episode of Steven Universe than Adventure Time. I think these songs are all perfectly crafted and all serve a clear purpose in terms of character perspective and development. Yes, they do feel like the Sugar-iest scenes that have ever played out on the show, and while I’ve made that seem like a bad thing in the past, it’s really not. I think it’s only a problem when it poses somewhat of a distracting issue in terms of story or pacing, but honestly, it works perfectly here. An episode could be riddled with Somvilayisms or be filled with Moynihan-type trippiness, but if it’s hilarious or thought-provoking, I don’t mind in the slightest. And here, the characters act as dramatically and passionately open about their emotions as they ever have (well, namely Marceline), but it’s so beautifully and captivatingly done that I couldn’t see this story done any other way.

It all begins with Oh Bubblegum, Ice King’s ballad to Princess Bubblegum, which is actually my favorite song in the episode. Ice King’s singing voice is clearly terrible on purpose, but it’s oozing with emotion and so blatantly has Ice King reveal his inner thoughts and self-esteem issues. He demandingly questions why, after all this time, he still doesn’t have anyone to love or a princess to call his own, which he sees as pure evidence that there’s something completely wrong with him. It’s a song that basically embodies everything I mentioned the Ice King is: silly and quirky, but also sad and lonely. Every song is accompanied by the hum of an omnichord, and it both emphasizes the whimsical and cutesy nature that each song has to offer, but also provides an ominously off-putting tone as well, which really hits home in the more uncomfortable parts of each musical number. Also, I’m gonna put to bed the idea that Marceline’s look of concern toward Ice King during his song has absolutely anything to do with her feelings revolving around PB. Absolutely no fucking way in hell I believe that look of sympathy was for anything besides Ice King’s depressing nature. There’s a ton of shipping fuel I buy into between Marceline and Bubblegum, but this isn’t one of them. Though, I’m not sure how many people even believe this theory anymore.

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When Marcy attempts to stop Ice King’s insanity, it’s a portion that I think halts the episode for a brief moment. I think Ice King’s shame for pushing Marceline feels a little melodramatic and tonally dissonant from the rest of the episode, but it’s this irritability that transitions in Marceline’s solo-song Nuts, which has her open up about her own insanity and mental exhaustion that the Ice King has caused her over the years. There’s plenty of Alzheimer’s connection you can make within the story of I Remember You, and the connection between Marceline and Ice King in general, and I think Marcy’s frustration and own helplessness are brought out full force in this ditty. It’s pretty easy to sense that she knows she can’t fix the Ice King and that, whatever has happened to him, he’s already too far gone to return to his former self. Marceline acknowledges that she wants to hangout with him and help him however she can, but it’s clear that the man she once knew and loved is gone and it’s really just painfully unfortunate that she has to accept what he has become.

Ice King’s sweeter and more empathetic side is brought out by Nuts, but also immediately becomes void when he attempts to kiss Marceline. This is really the most uncomfortable scene in the episode, as someone who was once a father figure to Marceline makes sexual advances onto her. It’s a writing choice that Sugar herself felt hesitant about, but one that Pendleton Ward really, really wanted in, and man does it pack a punch. Obviously it’s a somewhat harmless activity on Ice King’s part, given his ignorant nature when it comes to human relationships (though it was pretty creepy how he used a mere hug as a segue into first base), but you can only imagine the trauma or disgust that Marceline is feeling with him. It’s here Marceline blows up, and refers to the Ice King as his former alias, “Simon.” I get the feeling that Marceline has never actually tried to make Ice King remember who he is before, as she was either too hurt or confused to understand what had happened to him, but it becomes clear that she’s fed up with his jogged memory and wants simply to have her caretaker back again. She uses pictures (complete with Simon holding the Enchiridion, oh, the lore!), notes, and former writings of the old antiquarian, but nothing seems to work. Again, another great parallel to Alzheimer’s in the sense that, however much proof or evidence you show someone suffering with the terrible, terrible illness, nothing seems to work as an effective target to help jump the mind.

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Marceline then discovers a note written by Simon, which can be translated into a poem or tune to sing, to which Ice King takes as immediate inspiration into his next song. Remember You is the dramatic pinnacle of the entire episode. It’s here Marceline realizes that, no matter what has happened, Simon does love her and did what he could to make sure she survived. He never wanted to watch Marceline suffer, and admittedly probably never expected that she’d even live long enough to watch him become the villain, but had to do what he did to survive. No matter how selfless a person is, any mentally healthy person is likely to not welcome death with open arms, and Simon wanted to preserve his scholarly mind for as long humanly possible. There’s no possible chance that Marceline could ever think that Simon didn’t care for her or want the best for her after reading the note, and she can both emotionally react to it and acknowledge that the best thing she can do for Simon in return is accepting Ice King for who he is. No matter how annoying or distorted, Ice King is still Marceline’s old friend deep down inside, and the only aspect of Simon that remains in tact. The two bask in their new bond: Ice King, realizing he has a new friend to jam with, and Marceline, who sees the beauty and the sorrow in what is likely Simon’s last remaining form of communication he wrote to her, that he was probably too insane at that point to give to her in person. The episode closes with a flashback to the Great Mushroom War, and what is probably the first overt piece of visual evidence of the actual apocalypse. Marceline and Ice King’s soft voices lull the last scene powerfully through (some honest-to-Glob tearjerk worthy inflections from Tom Kenny) as an already transformed Simon hands a young Marcy a stuffed animal to comfort her, which eventually becomes her most prized possession, Hambo. A perfect heartwarming ending that gets me near-misty eyed every time I watch.

Everything this episode embodies is masterful, from creating a beautiful connection between the only characters who lived through the Mushroom War, to allowing them to powerfully emote through the art of music. This episode is essentially a “box episode” in the sense that it takes place almost entirely in Marceline’s house and focuses solely on the interactions between two lead characters. It’s almost like a stage play (with some musical elements) and really works as a captivating piece of character development and the reason why this show is more than just a silly cartoon for kids. It’s passionate, it’s creative, it’s honest, it’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s philosophical, it’s so many things that really just knock it out of the ballpark. There’s that bit of a lull, and some parts that don’t work. Like, what was the point of including Finn and Jake spying on the Ice King in the last few minutes? Did they really think Marcy wouldn’t be able to take care of herself? I understand they may have been concerned with Ice King’s behavior, but really, c’mon. Marcy herself asked them to leave. But, any minor problems aside, this episode is just too damn good. It’s cliche at this point to endlessly praise it, but I’m not going to lie when I think something is really good. It emphasizes everything that makes Adventure Time beautiful and admirable, and still amazes me by how well crafted and inherently sad I Remember You is to this day.

Favorite line: “Your constant harassment of the female gender makes me siiick.”

 

“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!”

“Burning Low” Review

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Original Airdate: July 30, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Burning Low opens to Finn and Flame Princess acting like a couple and almost completely ignores the past events of Hot to the Touch. It seems like a jarring change to have her previous episode end so vague and profound and then quite abruptly switch to lovey-dovey and endearing. In addition to that, it doesn’t really add anything that new to Flame Princess’s character. Through the entirety of this episode, FP herself only has a total of, like, 7 lines. We do learn a bit into why she had been locked up for several years of her life and the potential dangers that she could cause in her relationship with Finn, though it’s really never elaborated on any further. That said, it’s not really supposed to be a developmental Flame Princess episode, but instead release the turmoil that’s been building inside Finn ever since he let go of his infatuation with Princess Bubblegum. It does a great job of showing both sides of the situation, namely that Finn finally revealed his feelings toward PB after four seasons of build-up.

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First of all, this episode was the biggest fucking tease of all time by Cartoon Network. They really hyped the shit out of this one as if Finn, PB, and FP were going to be apart of some big love triangle that seemed 100% out of some 12-year-old’s fanfiction. Luckily enough, the staff chose a much more interesting direction that led to a pretty obvious misleading, but one that brought out the best in both Finn and PB’s characters.

Princess Bubblegum is clear, concise, and to a point about how she feels: she simply doesn’t want Finn or Flame Princess, someone who she has kept protected and sheltered from the world since she was a baby, to get radically hurt whether it be physical or mental. The only thing unusual about her point is the fact that she doesn’t draw a specific line about whether she believes Finn and Flame Princess should stop dating or just cease all connections completely. She repeatedly asks Finn to not “see” or “hangout” with Flame Princess, and if she means that he can’t engage in anything physical with Flame Princess, it’s completely understandable that she wouldn’t want to see either get hurt. Though, if she wants Finn and Flame Princess to stop hanging out all together, I have some difficulty getting behind that. Does she believe that the idea of Flame Princess and Finn hanging out at all could end disastrous because they eventually will want to give into those desires, or is it also somewhat of a jealous motherly/friendly tuition that she simply isn’t ready to see Finn dating yet? The latter seems more selfish, but I’d be surprised if that wasn’t just slightly a bit of her reasoning. After all, the ending shows that she does feel some jealousy seeing her little friend develop romantic feelings that don’t lean towards herself, which, again, I don’t think is anything out of character or unusual for her. I’m sure PB had very positive intentions to make sure Finn and Flame Princess remained as safe as possible, but also did enjoy the attention that Finn has solely given her over the years and will miss it. Bubblegum deeply cares about Finn, and watching him grow up is both a rewarding and also a tough experience for her.

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The jealousy aspect really stems from Jake, however, who basically instigated the entire conflict of the episode. It’s not unlike him to entirely disregard something important that PB intended for him to pay close attention to, and I find it even more fascinating that, essentially, he was right the whole time. As I mentioned, PB’s intentions were aiming at everyone’s best interests, but Jake wasn’t wrong in believing what he did. Problem is that he accidentally almost caused the death of Flame Princess, but Finn is also at fault for not sticking around while PB was trying to talk to him. Even if Jake did kickstart Burning Low’s conflict, he makes up for it by continuously sticking by Finn’s side throughout the episode. The scene at the beginning where Finn and Jake discuss love and tiers (the tier 15 bit is so infamous now that I’m sure it goes without mentioning) is surprisingly really funny and cute, and the bit where Jake finally blows up at PB for everything she had put Finn through in the past was both heartwarming and intense. Despite Jake and PB having a relatively civil connection, he has no shame in completely blowing up at her for all the emotional turmoil and stagnation Finn had experienced in the past. PB and he have never had the best relationship when it comes to what is best for Finn, and this is the first time they’re really put at odds.

But the icing on the cake is, of course, Finn blowing up at PB. It’s a really powerful moment for Finn to finally get his emotions for the princess out, and that he’s able to do so when his integrity and patience is tested. Finn knows that it would be entirely unfair for himself to give up everything he’s worked for in the past few weeks to be with someone who wouldn’t give him the time of day, and that he deserves better. It really shows how much he’s grown from developing a real, mutual relationship, and that he knows that he never wants to go back to feeling how he did when he was infatuated with Bubblegum.

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These three perspectives are really what carry the episode through, and make the end result a very raw, powerful experience. That doesn’t mean that Finn and Flame Princess’s relationship is covered poorly, however. I do think that Finn assisting FP in building a new house (where Marauder Village coincidentally used to be) was a very cute sequence, and just very sweet to see Finn in a relationship where he’s receiving mutual care and respect. Made me really happy for the little guy. The bit with Flame Princess bursting through the core of the Earth was definitely an intense sequence, but didn’t quite ring with me as much as the rest of the episode did. Maybe it’s just because I enjoyed the introspective looks at how the Finn-PB relationship has escalated and shifted overtime that when it came back to the FP-Finn relationship, I just wasn’t nearly as invested.

But what we have is an excellent display of anger, jealousy, empathy, and even more turmoil that has built up amongst our main characters throughout the years. It’s really intriguing to see them all act so honestly and brutally with each other, not out of hate, but out of care for one and other and for themselves. It also goes without saying that this is one that is loaded with some of AT’s most iconic moments, whether it be the tier 15 scene or Bacon Pancakes. Yes, this is where Bacon Pancakes all started. And obviously it’s been played out profusely over the years (in one of my favorite renditions here), but it still strikes me as an extremely charming and enjoyable tune. Sugar was especially nervous about this one because she figured it was going in the direction of being way too random and absurd to the point where it was making fun of itself, but I never got that kind of vibe from it. It never seemed too embarrassingly self-referential and always struck me as especially delightful. There’s also the bit with Jake videochatting a silly character by the name President Porpoise, who later receives an entire episode dedicated to him much, much later on.

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This one is just a collection of terrific character interactions and development based on the past sequences of events that led up to this point. For all the people who wanted to see more of Flame Princess and Finn’s relationship in depth, this probably wasn’t especially satisfying, seeing as how FP’s physical instability never really plays a large part in the story again and she’s barely even in it. Though, for anyone who has been anticipating the relationship between Finn and PB to have somewhat of an official close, like myself, it’s all the more rewarding.

Favorite line: “You’ll make it to Tier 5, where she’ll let you discover all fifteen feet of her long, beautiful stomach.” (I don’t wanna know what Jake and Lady do in private)

 

 

“Gotcha!” Review

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Original Airdate: June 18, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Going into LSP-centric episodes is always a difficult task for me. I’ve been pretty audible on this blog about my feelings regarding Lumpy Space Princess in the past, so you probably already know I’m not the biggest fan of her. Yet, at the same time, I don’t actively dislike her. Of the recurring cast of characters, LSP and Cinnamon Bun are about as close I’ve come to disliking anyone, but I certainly don’t hate them. Even with that said, there’s a bit of bias I do hold against these episodes going in that I’m sure a diehard LSP fan wouldn’t necessarily agree with. Then again, there’s also characters I genuinely enjoy like Tree Trunks who isn’t really able to hold up an episode on her own either, so I’m not sure if it all comes down to personal preference or not. I dunno, I’m rambling now, but even though I’m not able to enjoy Gotcha! a whole lot for the reasons I’ve mentioned above, it’s still a pretty okay episode that I think has its moments.

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Part of the problem I do find with LSP-centric episodes is that her vanity and self-centered behavior just aren’t enjoyable enough to span the entirety of an 11 minute episode. The episodes she’s heavily focused in typically do revolve around the very one-dimensional side of her personality as well, which is why Lumpy Space Princess works best in small doses. You have an episode like this that attempts to help her come to a realization about herself and the way she behaves, but the fact that she still stays the same in her very next appearance just makes any type of development surrounding her seem like a waste of time. It’s not even that she’s portrayed badly in this one; I enjoy her epiphany that people aren’t solely attractive by their good looks and instead also by their personality, as well as the admiration she grows from Finn because he is especially attractive in that sense. However, as I’ve said, in a cast of characters that are constantly growing and changing, LSP is just one that we can never expect to change, which is fine, but it makes an episode like this seem practically pointless. The only time I find it interesting is when we’re treated to some of the more tragic aspects of her characters, such as in Bad Timing or Be Sweet, but any attempt to put Lumpy in a more compassionate and endearing light just feels a bit flimsy to me because her attitude and obsession with herself never seem to lessen.

As for the plot of the episode itself, I think it also suffers a bit from being slightly disjointed. It almost feels like it could’ve been separated into two different stories: one with Finn and Jake going on an adventure with LSP, and one solely revolved around LSP’s book. I feel as though they had some cool things going with LSP’s social experiment in the first act that just don’t get enough time to breathe or work to their fullest potential. That’s followed by an entertaining dungeon crawl, but by the time that expedition ended, I had almost completely forgotten LSP was writing a book to begin with. I liked both set pieces, but I think committing to one part or separating the two would have helped for satisfactory experiences.

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Not sure if the eye-whites here are an animation error or not. This feature was primarily done away with after the first season, though I’m not sure if the rule specifically applies to Finn. Nevertheless, you rarely see a character with eye-whites these days.

So yeah, I’m ranting my asshole out, but there are many other gems that are worth mentioning. Despite what I just said about the story, I do genuinely enjoy both the adventure and book aspect. From an LSP point of view, I think her parts can drag them down a bit, but it’s more of the atmosphere surrounding her that I like than her actual experience. For instance, I love that brief little montage of Lumpy Space Princess writing a new version of her story while that song about generosity plays softly in the background. The entire episode is just filled with nice indie vibes that I can really get behind. And I guess that’s the best way to describe how I feel after watching this episode, “nice.” Again, I don’t really find myself enjoying Lumpy’s character or sympathizing with her anymore than I did before, but I didn’t actively roll my eyes or find it painful to sit through. It’s not like sitting through a Ronaldo Fryman episode of Steven Universe (coincidentally, Rebecca Sugar boarded this one. Sorry, Rebecca. There’s just no way to make that guy pleasant or charming).

The connection between LSP and Turtle Princess is one I quite enjoy. The constant “HEY, GIRL!”’s throughout the episode do make me laugh considerably hard, and I just generally find Turtle Princess’s sad and macabre personality to be endearing, so anytime she’s on-screen is a delight. Jake in particular is pretty funny in this one. I like his brief interaction with BMO at the beginning (would’ve loved if Jake actually called BMO “sensei” in the next handful of episodes), his reaction when LSP first shows up at the doorstep, and his outburst “LSP, you’re wearing garbage as clothes!” towards the end. I think Cole Sanchez and Sugar went a little overboard with how nice Finn is for the purpose of the plot. It’s not overexaggerated or unbelievable, but it shapes him down to behave like a much blander character than he is. But again, this is from Lumpy Space Princess’s point of view, so I can’t really fault his behavior or the way he’s written for it. I would’ve enjoyed a few goofier or quirky moments for him. I do, however, like his remark, “you’re beautiful on the inside… like, your brain and stuff!” That was a perfect Finn interpretation of inner beauty.

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The quest Finn, Jake, and LSP go on is pretty neat-o too. As I mentioned, I really would’ve liked to see a whole lot more of the Mystery Mountains, but what we got to see was pretty cool. The whole bit with the mirrors was really spooky and interesting, and it makes me wonder what the story is behind the mirrors. Is it secretly what LSP most desires? That would make perfect sense, because the entire episode is devoted to her realization that Finn is not attracted to her, but instead, she is attracted to him. While we’re on the subject, what is the age gap between Lumpy Space Princess and Finn? Like, we know she was already a teenager in her debut, and she later celebrated her quinceranera in The Eyes, meaning she’s probably 15 or 16 where Finn is now a 14-year-old up to this point. I always kind of thought LSP’s attraction to Finn was sort of creepy, but it’s kind of reassuring that they’re likely only a year or two apart. Also, is this the only time Finn uses that little slot on his backpack for the Demon Blood Sword? I mean, I know he used it to carry the Root Sword around, but from the Demon Blood Sword onward, he’s always just kind of kept them in an area between his back and his backpack. Weird thing to note, but I kind of wonder why he doesn’t use that slot more often. Probably a hell of a lot more comfortable (though also probably tougher to draw).

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With that said, this one is okay. It has its fair share of decent moments, but nothing I get behind too much. Again, it might just be my personal beliefs blindsiding me, but there are several LSP-centric episodes down the line I actually really enjoy, so it does lead me to believe I’m not being too biased.

“I don’t know how it happened. Usually, I’m super observant about these kinds of things. Like that one time Melissa’s lump was all crooked when she came back from the bathroom. I observed that. I observed that all day and didn’t say anything. She must have been so embarrassed for herself. What-ever. ‘Cause that’s what you deserve when you PO LSP. Ha. Oh, she know what she did – No, I’m not going to tell you.

After all, a girl’s gotta have some mysteries.

Anyway, I’ll talk to you later, book. To recap, Finn is the one who is hot. I’ll see you in the next chapter. BUMPS.”

– I Wrote a Book, Lumpy Space Princess

Favorite line: “LSP, you’re wearing garbage for clothes!”

“Daddy’s Little Monster” Review

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Original Airdate: April 30, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Daddy’s Little Monster answers the questions left behind in Return to the Nightosphere with pretty satisfying results. This one had some competition with the hilarity and bizarreness of the last episode, but I think Daddy’s Little Monster takes a bit of a new direction that still makes for an equally enjoyable episode.

This one starts exactly where Return to the Nightosphere left off, as Jake tries to charge up his camera phone through BMO after a refreshing shower. BMO’s technology functions usually incorporate some kind of double entendre revolving around making stool, but this one seems especially straining for the little guy. Almost like he’s passing a kidney stone or something. It’s also interesting to see a cellular phone in the Land of Ooo; to my knowledge, we only ever regularly see LSP’s cell phone up to this point, so it almost makes me wonder where exactly Jake retrieved it from. Though, from this episode on, it seems like almost everyone in Ooo and beyond has a cell phone. Kinda wish they kept up with the cool and unique personal phones Finn and Jake had that were adapted from a transistor radio and a walkie-talkie. They just seemed like fitting and creative pieces of technology for a post-apocalyptic world.

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Aside from that, we do get a lengthy sequence of exposition as Finn and Jake watch video evidence of what happened to Marceline. It’s all very energetic and humorous though, especially with the return of none other than Hunson Abadeer! That guy is so lively and vibrant that I love every second of him being on-screen. It’s rare we even get to ever see him, so his return is certainly welcomed. Marceline’s quick song about wanting Hunson’s respect is alright I suppose, but that’s because its counterpart from the last Nightosphere episode was The Fry Song. Pretty hard to compete with that, and the song itself is just sort of a brief leighway into Marcy’s main conflict with her father. It has some nice lyrics, and reveals more baggage in the ever-dysfunctional relationship between Hunson and Marceline. I also love Jake throughout the duration of the video: he’s constantly rotating the phone up and down from body-view to his feet. I also find his line “ow, my hippocampus!” to be great, because it works as a funny one-liner, as well as revealing where Finn and Jake’s amnesia came from in the previous episode.

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There’s a lot of funny moments once Finn and Jake return to the Nightosphere. I love Jake’s half-assed attempt at shifting into a demon, followed by his really grotesque transformation. The demons return once again and are equally as funny as their last appearance; love how the demonized Marcy finds a way to fuck with them no matter what, even when they try to find loopholes around their predicament. That one guy just wanted abs too God damn badly. Also, that fucking demon who was chewing out Finn and Jake for cutting in line was all kinds of amusingly obnoxious. I love the Political Rap that follows as well, written by J-Moyns himself. It’s so pandering to the demons listening, and yet I love the way they all just immediately go along with it. Especially the line “this system is broke, yo!” That really seemed to hit home.

The scene with Hunson in his kitchen (equipped with magnets from Vegas and Orlando; Hunson really got around in his younger days!) is both enjoyable and pretty interesting, really. Hunson’s actions are obviously morally wrong, but it’s clear that him and Marceline are two completely different people, and it’s often pretty relatable that a parent may want something for their child that just simply isn’t attractive to them. Hunson’s actions aren’t completely unlikable because he certainly seems to hold Marceline to a high standard by considering her worthy of ruling his kingdom, and only wants Marcy to be raised the way he was raised and possibly find more common ground with her. The reason he’s wrong in his actions, though, is obviously because he chose to do it against Marceline’s will and didn’t respect her choice of wanting to go her own path.

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Finn see’s this as an opportunity to save Marceline, and, though it backfires, Finn chooses the heroic and equally chaotically evil choice of putting on Marceline’s amulet. It’s cool to see such a twisted version of Finn’s personality. Even though he saves Marceline and Jake, he’s pretty much immediately taken over by the gem’s demonic powers afterwards, and can’t resist the overwhelming feelings of evil inside of him. That’s when Hunson comes out to save the day! I think this part in particular can be up for interpretation. It’s never explained fully whether Hunson knew this was Finn or not, and I like to believe he assumed the beast was Marceline and finally came to his senses in regards to allow her to go upon her own life path. Looking at it that way is a very sweet moment from the ruler of all darkness, and even if he knew it was Finn, he still chose to put an end to the suffering that Marcy and her friends had gone through.

The only thing about this one I didn’t like that much was the climax. I think the conversation between Hunson and Marceline was resolved way too quickly. It goes from quiet, to tense, to charming, to cheerful all over to course of about 20 seconds. I like Hunson admitting he’s proud of Marceline, but this scene just wasn’t enough of a selling point for me. I was really convinced that Hunson does care about Marceline during their interactions towards the end of the original Nightosphere episode, but it’s done so quickly this time around that I feel like there’s not enough time for a big emotional impact. It’s done well enough, but after one big two parter, I would have liked somewhat of a bigger payoff. Also, apparently a lot of people thought Marceline was completely serious when she said she’d stop being friends with Finn, which almost had me convinced because we won’t see her for another 18 episodes now. Marcy’s pretty much missing in action for the rest of the season from this point on, aside from one final prominent appearance.

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But I do like this one a lot, and I think it really does work well as a two parter. It was a great exploration of a rarely seen area in Adventure Time, and continued to build on a relatively important relationship. I love the Nightosphere, I love Hunson, I love his connection with Marcy, and I just really love all the creativity that went into these past two episodes. This is the last we see of Hunson for now (not sure why they’ve never incorporated him in another story till the upcoming season 9 episode, I suppose they just never found a place for him) and I’m glad we got to see enough into his character and his relationship with Marceline to hold me over till then.

Also, I’ll never look at a banana the same way again.

Favorite line: “See how I’m not killing you?”

“Hot to the Touch” Review

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Original Airdate: April 2, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

Here we are, kids! Season four! As I’ve mentioned a couple times prior to this review, season four is a really big turning point for the series. Things get darker, edgier, and more impactful from hereon in, folks. Fresh off the batch is Hot to the Touch, a continuation from where season three’s cliffhanger left off. When the original synopsis for this episode was released, I had much different expectations for it. I generally didn’t expect for this one to pick right up where Incendium left off, as it typically wasn’t really something AT had done before, aside from the Mortal Folly/Mortal Recoil two-parter. I thought there’d be a lot more of Finn just sort of observing Flame Princess from afar, and trying to learn little tidbits about her in the process. There is a little bit of that, but what we got as a whole was a pretty satisfying episode, though not without it’s issues.

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First off, I think Flame Princess’s character is crafted perfectly in this episode. I dunno, after this one, I think they kinda jumped the gun and made her a lot less interesting than this episode set her up to be. I like her curiosity, how uneducated of the world around her she is, and how her moral code is constantly put into question. With a few exceptions (and some cool development much later on) I think her character was sorta squandered down into just a straight good guy following Hot to the Touch. Not to say Flame Princess is an awful character after this episode, but it almost feels like day and night to watch her so recklessly destroy a kingdom in this one and then be all cute and bubbly the next. I just really think they had a lot of momentum going with her ambiguity and then sorta dropped it way too quickly. It’s not an actual issue with the episode, though, and is one of my very favorite appearances of FP’s character in general. Also, she frequently mentions that she’s an elemental! It’s cool to see this mentioned so early on, and makes me wonder how Flame Princess became so familiar with this label to begin with. Perhaps Flame King educated her on this matter? It’s really up for discussion.

Finn’s interest in Flame Princess is very cute; I love his instant infatuation with FP and how he’s quickly able to profess his love for her without even really knowing her. That’s a typical thirteen-year-old for you (or is he 14 now?). I love how honest he is right off the bat, completely contradicting his prior relationship with PB. It’s rewarding to see the little guy be so open regarding his feelings and to not hold back, learning from his mistakes the first time. In addition to that, there is an interesting bit of turmoil he experiences when he has to choose between being a hero or preserving the one he cares about. The decision seems simple at first, but it all becomes more difficult when we learn that putting out FP’s flames legitimately hurt her. All of us want Finn to choose the obvious route of being heroic, but also don’t want to see Flame Princess get injured in the process. As for his ending breakdown… we’ll get to that in a bit.

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Jake is the perfect everyman in this episode: completely supportive of his hormonal brother, but being very rational when handling the situation. I love how much he goes through just for his friend, from helping him pursue his new love interest to trying to protect the Goblin Kingdom in the process. And, as a result, Jake is actually the true hero of this episode! Yeah, he helps Finn get closer to Flame Princess AND saves everyone in the Goblin Kingdom. What did you do again, Finn? You’re slippin’, buddy.

There’s a lot of enjoyable moments in this one. I love Finn’s awkwardness when it comes to pursuing FP, right down to the fact that he’s basically being a giant stalker and even acknowledges himself in the act. There’s plenty of silly side characters, from the smoking bird (who, for some reason, speaks in rhymes) and the return of the quirky goblins! And hey, speaking of characters returning, my boi NEPTR’s back!! NEPTR is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s really delightful to see the little scamp once again. I love the fact that everyone just generally disregards everything he says, including his entire existence. It just seems like such an oddly cynical and sadistic turn for such loving characters, and I really like how different it is because of that. NEPTR will always be BMO-Light to the rest of the cast. Also, that rap was fucking dope!

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My one problem with this episode, which is actually kind of a major one, is Rebecca Sugar’s part of the episode. I think Cole Sanchez’s section is just fine, but Sugar’s work feels like it’s trying too hard to be really profound and emotional to me. This is a common criticism for a ton of the season six and seven episodes, but really, I think it comes out full-fledged here. Finn’s crying just didn’t hit home for me at all; Rebecca had some big obsession with wanting Finn to cry during her time on the show, and really, I’m not sure I get it. I think some of the most impactful and poignant moments on the show are done without any crying at all (Finn discovering Susan may not be human in Susan Strong, Simon’s video diaries in Holly Jolly Secrets, Finn being abandoned by his father in Escape from the Citadel, etc.). It’s something that carries over heavily into her own show Steven Universe, but really, I just don’t think it works here. And considering the ending is left so ambiguous and poetic, you’d think there’d be room for more development on how Flame Princess and Finn are in a somewhat “forbidden” romance, but it’s rarely even touched upon in the next episode FP is in, outside of the last half, and just feels like a cheap gimmick in order for me to feel something or be left with some lasting impression, but it just doesn’t work at all. Pendleton Ward had this brief bit of wisdom on the episode’s commentary:

“[in reference to writing kid characters] … you just think that they’re gonna skin their knees and cry a bunch, when it’s not fun to watch, I don’t think.”

Though he wasn’t speaking directly about that portion of the episode, it pretty much sums up my feelings. I criticized What Was Missing slightly in the past for Sugar’s style feeling off with AT’s aesthetics, but I think this is a prominent example of her writing failing to meet the emotional complexities of the characters, at least in my eyes. I think Cole gets it right from Finn’s monologue earlier on in the treehouse, that’s meant both to be funny and somewhat profound. That’s exactly what I was looking for throughout a majority of this episode.

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That being said, I do think it’s still a pretty decent season premiere. I think there’s still a lot of enjoyable moments, from the silly jokes, to the beautiful visuals (really nice blends of orange and yellow), to the general intrigue of the main conflict. The characters are written as perfectly as they should be; as I mentioned, this is one of my favorite appearances of Flame Princess to date. Even though I’m not crazy about the ending, it still leaves a ton of ambiguity and mystery that Incendium left off with, giving me enough motivation and anticipation to keep watching forward. And as long as I live, I will never get tired of Finn stretching out Jake’s face like silly putty.

Strap in, everyone! Season four is gonna be one hell of a ride!

Favorite line: “Listen, when I look at you, my brain goes all stupid, and I just wanna hug you, and sit on the couch and play BMO with you.” (the most accurate depiction of teenage feelings of all time)