Tag Archive | Skyler Page

“Davey” Review

D 1.png

Original Airdate: January 14, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Skyler Page

I quite enjoy the concept of Davey. Finn quarreling with his identity as a hero, and wanting to just be “normal” amongst any average citizen of Ooo is a really great idea for a premise. After all, Finn certainly isn’t the kind of person to do things specifically for attention or credibility. He does it because he likes to battle bad guys and do favors for other people, that’s just who he is. When it comes down to it, however, Finn is some who enjoys his privacy, and despite his friendliness and outgoing behavior, he still is slightly introverted. So the episode largely focuses around Finn trying to go about town as a “regular person,” and does so with mildly satisfying results.

D 2.png

I love the entire beginning sequence, containing a fast paced dragon slaying at the hands of Finn’s demon blood sword. The entire scene is great, poppy fun, and I love Finn and Jake’s carelessness throughout. Jake’s just chilling playing video games, and he flips Finn into mid-air without even looking up, to which Finn quite beautifully slices through a dragon’s buns. Also Jake’s advice, “don’t let the dragon drag on, dude,” probably has a ton of different interpretations for meaning behind it, but I just like to think of it as a lovely bit of nonsense. The overemotional Candy Person who really wants to have dinner with Finn is one of my favorite gag characters. This character is actually based off of someone who Pendleton Ward had previously met at Comic Con, who was insistently begging for the same request. Appropriately enough, Ward also voices this character, and the delivery of the lines is what really makes him so enjoyable. I just like picturing in my head how dinner with Finn and this dude would actually go. I imagine it’d be filled with a lot of screaming.

As Finn begins to feel that he wishes he was more normal, I do have to say that the subtlety of his issues both works for and against the actual dilemma of the episode. I appreciate the later seasons’ approaches to how characters feel and why they feel the way that they do. There’s usually no heavy exposition or characters saying “I feel x because of y;” it’s moreso just the character having an issue and dealing with it by what we would expect that character to do, without even addressing the problem in words. And this is how Finn is portrayed in this episode: he feels sad about not being able to freely go about his day, so he takes action by taking on a new identity. It’s a borderline personality crisis that I’m glad was covered with so much grace, but simultaneousy, I’m just disappointed there wasn’t more build-up or focus on Finn’s issue. I feel like it would’ve been a more effective first act if it showed Finn constantly running into situations where he felt smothered and unable to go about his daily life. I just think it’s odd that a couple of people screaming outside his house was what drove Finn over the edge into feeling as though he couldn’t go about his life calmly, and it’s one of those episodes that I think could’ve benefited from a few extra minutes, but there’s no use complaining about an 11 minute show that usually manages to fit so much important junk in that span of time. It’s another one of those situations where something isn’t done badly, I’d just like to see it in much more deeper light, because Finn having an identity crisis is, as we’ve seen really interesting.

D 3.png

But the truth of the matter is, this isn’t the dark and solemn crisis Finn was experiencing two episodes earlier in All the Little People; this is a bright and silly episode full of comical ideas, and for what it is, it’s pretty fun! There’s tons of great visual gags to take from this one: Jake beating an egg into flour ($10 he wasn’t even going to actually cook anything), Finn’s gravity-defying flip from his window onto the grass, Finn eating a cocoa bird that costs money, and then just blatantly throwing the money he has into a fountain instead, and, my favorite, Finn sweeping up mini brooms with a broom. There’s tons of absurdly silly moments like that, and I found myself appreciating them a lot more on rewatch than when I first saw this episode. The character of Davey is pretty funny as well. It’s worth noting that Davey Johnson is based on the real-life Davey Johnson, who voices Xergiok, as well as the character of Davey himself. Johnson does a terrific job of voicing Davey, and giving him such a mundane, yet likable voice. Speaking of mundane, I really like how humorously boring Davey’s life is. He just builds log cabins and hangs out with some guy named Randy, who too is delightfully monotonous. That poor guy just gets shit on the entire time he’s on screen.

I’ve said this before this season with Up a Tree, but this is one that Skyler Page and Somvilay gifted with a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. There’s a good minute or so that’s just Davey walking around and checking out his surroundings, and it’s really calming and helps emphasize the type of life that Finn is capable of achieving. And, by episode’s end, I do kinda find myself siding with Finn’s debacle on whether to continue to be Davey or to return to being Finn. I mean, Davey’s life is quite boring, but there is something rewarding about a life of quietness and peace, which I think Finn has come to realize. Yet, it’s abandoning Finn’s true self, who does love a life of spontaneity and devoting his attention to helping others. Which is why he uses his alternate persona to selflessly put other people’s needs before himself by the end of it. And it’s nice to see that, as a hero, Finn is looked at as someone who isn’t capable of doing anything wrong. The Banana Guards don’t suspect a thing from him (though probably mostly due to their stupidity) and he realizes that there are people who need him in their life, like Jake. Again, I wish there was a bit more of realization in Finn to make it a stronger conclusion, but it’s a sweet ending that reunites the brothers regardless.

D 4.png

So yeah, it’s a light one, but one I do enjoy. I wish there was more attention focused on Finn’s issue, but I think the humor and atmosphere are what shape this up to be a perfectly serviceable entry. Lots of quirky gags, good character moments, and a solid story. Also, adorable BMO scenes! The little guy is especially cute in this one, I felt so bad for him when Finn shaved his hair off. I feel you, Beems. Davey is an aspect of Finn’s personality that has never returned in the series, though mentioned in Issue #50 of the comics, where he was apparently one of Finn’s past lives. Whether it’s canon or not, it definitely is an interesting scenario to use the character for, so if you’re a person out there who just really, really enjoyed this episode or the title character, I’d say check it out!

Favorite line: “Oh, I thought it was Finn on account of he’s wearing Finn’s exact clothes.”

“Up a Tree” Review

UAT 1.png

Original Airdate: November 26, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Skyler Page & Somvilay Xayaphone

I’ve done it again! I incorrectly mentioned that Season Four was the only season Skyler Page worked on, but lo and behold, he still has two episodes left. This time, paired with Somvilay, and it seems as though he adopts Somvilay’s style of writing and character design quite accurately, as, from looking at the episode and storyboard in general, I had a tough time deciphering who contributed what. It’s an interesting pairing that makes for an interesting episode, but for the most part, I think it works. Like I mentioned, even in Page’s portion, there’s a ton of Somvilay stylistic choices that usually bother me; the slow pacing, use of anti-humor, and some very wonky drawings of Finn (though this one still bothers me. I refer to my good pal Stuped over on the reddit who mentioned that Finn “looks like a refrigerator.”) While these issues seemed to plague an episode like Ignition Point, I think it actually works pretty well with the tone and laidback atmosphere that Up a Tree set out to create.

UAT 2.png

There’s something quite… relaxing about this one, so to speak. It’s in the same vein as Jake the Brick (though, I’ll say right now, that episode is much superior in quality) in the sense that I feel as though this is an episode I can fall asleep to. It’s very low energy, and I quite enjoy watching Finn just take a simple expedition up a tree that is turned into a much bigger and more complicated matter, ala AT style.

There’s a lot of fun set-up moments, like Finn and Jake’s game of “throwing and catching disk” (this episode actually made me realize the term “Frisbee” is copyrighted by Wham-O) which has their take on the ego of “human boy” and “dog” in probably the silliest and most ignorant depictions of their olden counterparts possible. Funny enough, I’m wondering if Finn’s knowledge of dog’s only being able to bark in the olden days derives from his experience as his Farmworld counterpart. Afterall, it’s later revealed that some of Ooo’s civilians didn’t even know that dogs didn’t used to talk, so I’m wondering if Finn subconsciously picked it up, or if it was just something that Marcy spilled to him sometime prior. The pretext to this game of throwing and catching disk is a picnic with Lady, as she continually gets more and more preggers. Jake and Lady easily only continue to get cuter per episode revolving around them, as Jake takes good care of her and makes sure she isn’t straining herself too much. I can argue for days about how Jake was somewhat of a jerk to his buddy two episodes ago in Jake the Dog, but I could never argue that he doesn’t love that damn Rainicorn to death.

UAT 3.png

Once Finn begins his journey climbing up the tree, we meet some delightfully off-putting animal characters: the Porcupine and Squirrel. I really like their heavily inspired 1930’s animal designs, and their general behavior/demeanor is really enjoyably unusual to me. Jim Cummings voices the Porcupine, as well as most of the other featured animals, and he does a great job of giving a charming, yet deeply unsettling performance for the Porcupine especially. Cummings has a pretty easily recognizable voice, but one that I really never get tired of hearing, so it’s nice to have him offer his talents to AT. The Squirrel, who later ends up becoming an ally to Finn, is actually a one-off character I’m quite fond of. I think his general indecisiveness and inflections (performed by Marc Maron) really carry his character through, and there’s always something very likable and endearing about Adventure Time’s loser characters, as well as the way they are treated. Like, I’m sure they knew that we were only going to see this character once and he probably wasn’t going to be used again, and so Somvy and Skyler could’ve taken the easy and meaner root of having the Squirrel’s flying just fail completely, but fuck it. This random Squirrel who we’ve only known for five minutes deserves a happy ending, so they gave it to ‘im!! AT’s lack of sadism towards its own characters never fails to charm me.

The animal occult strikes me as quite odd. Like, what are they about? They just lock up any trespassers who enter the tree for inexplicable reasons? What is the basis of their government and slogan of “in the tree, part of the tree?” It’s never really explained and somewhat feels like a forced conflict, but eh, I never really took it that seriously and I don’t think we’re supposed to. I think we’re just supposed to enjoy the creepy, big eyed animals and their deranged methods, and I certainly do. The Owl, also voiced by Jim Cummings, is a pretty fun antagonist for how little he’s on screen. Again, his entire character and memorability pretty much derives from his design as well as voice, because he really doesn’t have enough screentime or character for me to actually find him interesting otherwise. Also, he inexplicably wears a shirt that says “Owl” on it, just in case people don’t know what kind of animal he is? Pretty funny.

As a side note, there’s some really nice backgrounds in this one, courtesy of Santino Lascano and Derek Hunter, that I felt inclined to include them below.

UAT 4.pngUAT 5.pngUAT 6.pngUAT 7.pngUAT 8

Like I mentioned, there’s a lot of breaks in silence, awkward moments, and odd jabs at humor that Somvilay’s pretty accustomed to at this point, but a lot of little moments I actually found myself laughing at this time around. Brief moments like Jake pointing at the frisbee before going to pick it up or the audio clip of Finn saying “pooooped” repeatedly being used aren’t really inherently funny ideas, but work in the way that Somvilay intended them to come off: so “not funny” that they end up being delivered as funny. Again, this is something that’s very objective, though. I’ve been a heavy critic of this style of writing in the past, so I can easily see someone finding this episode completely unfunny. It really is just the matter of somehow hitting a person’s sensibilities whether it wants to or not, which can completely fail for me in instances like Ignition Point, yet somehow work in this episode. This is really why I think Somvilay is one of the most unique and innovative writers on the show: no matter how badly his approach to humor fails, he does everything in his power to make his episodes as “unfunny” as possible, which somehow wildly pays off occasionally. It’s really quite the spectacle.

That being said, it doesn’t excuse the fact that I just really cannot get behind the way he draws Finn on occasions, and this being one of the most notorious. Besides exaggerating the tubed body to EXTREME lengths, once Finn is shrunken down, the hole for his face on his hat becomes unnaturally small. Like, I guess you could argue that it’s somehow a result of the cursed apple, but it just looks so God damn jarring a good majority of the episode, and isn’t visually interesting or funny enough to even enjoy. I just keep scratching my head on why the hole is so fucking small!

UAT 9.png

As I mentioned earlier, the ending closes off with a pretty beautiful flight into the sunset, featuring the Squirrel and Finn. It’s simply an ending that works entirely on an emotional level and makes ya feel really warm and fuzzy: Finn retrieves his disk and the Squirrel gets to call himself a flying squirrel. We also get a cameo from the snail who is now free from the Lich’s control, and Jake, who is happily stirring up some pickles and ice cream for his significant other. All is well in the Land of Ooo!

I like this one quite a bit. Like I said, this is one I can imagine people don’t like because of the very slow approaches to humor, but I don’t even really like this one on a humorous level. I just like it because it’s easy to watch. Nice colors, nice designs, nice atmosphere, and a nice ending. Everything about it is just really… well, nice, and it’s hard to really argue against an episode that just kind of sets out to make you feel good. It accomplishes that goal quite well, and makes for a simplistic and endearing story in the ever-changing world of Adventure Time.

Favorite line: “The wind blows!”

“The Lich” Review

TL 1.png

Original Airdate: October 22, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

Part of what makes the Lich (character) so great is his lack of frequent on-screen appearances. While most would disagree, as a major complaint of the show has been the lack of Lich appearances over the years, I believe he’s a villain that’s so sinister and captivating that he can really only be used so sparingly as an effectively terrifying presence. The Lich returns the aforementioned character to the spotlight, after 52 episodes of absences (unless you count King Worm or In Your Footsteps), and you can tell this is one that writers Tom Herpich and Skyler Page had a ton of fun with. The entire episode is designed around an alarming and ominous atmosphere that is genuinely uncomfortable to sit through, but one that builds up so perfectly to the eventual reveal of Ooo’s greatest villain.

TL 2.png

The episode starts off with another unusual dream sequence, which is like, the third or fourth time AT has done so, and there’s only about fifteen more to come. Not to say this is a bad thing; AT nearly always outdoes itself with trippy and unusual dream sequences, and this one is no exception. It utilizes unconventional and somewhat startling visuals, including the blink-and-you’ll-miss appearance of the Lich as Billy, which of course works as foreshadowing, and also the bear, sporting a masquerade mask, uttering “dark times are coming.” There’s tons of conclusions you can draw by the beginning dream itself, namely that the Lich had killed Billy prior to this episode and disguised himself in Billy’s skin (I still can’t believe how gruesome that sounds/is) and that the Old Lady was presumably eaten by the bear, as we never see her again following this episode. This is where Finn awakes as we’re treated to a humorous dream story by Jake himself, which further implies his giant foot fetish. I dunno, I kinda wanna know how Jake handles this in his relationship with Lady. Like, she doesn’t actually have feet, does she?? She just has hooves, or stubs, or something. These are the types of thoughts that keep me up at night.

The scene to follow in Billy’s crack is a nice representation of the dynamic between Finn and Billy. Finn’s awkwardness typically only arises around his lady friends, but here we see Finn feeling a bit nervous and uncomfortable around Billy. Obviously his admiration for Billy has caused Finn to feel somewhat inferior around his hero, despite his own display of true heroism back in Season One. Finn still acknowledges Billy as someone he wants emulate and follow in his footsteps, which is why he does not know how to present himself and act like a professional hero. The entire scene in Billy’s crack feels… off to say the least, and that’s an atmosphere that carries throughout the run of the episode. I remember the promo for this episode really hyped up what Finn’s response would be to Billy when he asks him if he’s ready to save all of Ooo from the Lich, and somehow it was so much more impactful and uncomfortable to simply have Finn utter “… yes,” during the actual reveal. This is a moment Finn has been waiting for presumably years of his life, and he has no other way to express his feelings both excitedly and solemnly regarding the circumstances of the actual situation.

TL 3.png

The following montage is just lovely. For an episode that really banks itself on being entirely uneasy and subdued, the montage of stealing the jewels of royalty is really a ton of fun. I love it all, from Finn and Jake pranking Ice King by writing “I suck hamburgers” on his beard (how does one even vandalize someone’s beard?), to the gross juices that fly out from Emerald Princesses’s head after F&J squeeze out her jewel, to a very rare appearance of Embryo Princess with her legitimately sleeping inside what appears to be an embryo. Of course, there’s the even grosser sequence of Finn removing LSP’s jewel from her head, complete with what Pendleton Ward calls “dog food sounds” playing in the background. Yuck. The montage ends with Jake, Finn, and Billy riding off into the night, as Finn takes notes of Billy’s flowing mane and cool exterior. Finn finally feels like he’s on Billy’s level, and removes his hat to allow his own hair to flow smoothly. This is the biggest task Finn has ever taken on, and it’s both exciting and somewhat heartwarming for him to be able to work so closely with someone he admires so dearly.

The scene that follows begins to reveal some very perplexing yet humorously revealed exposition about the Enchiridion from a little man named Book-o. The most notable bit of information from this portion actually didn’t make the episode. There was going to be a first mention of the Crystal Citadel by Book-o, including the introduction of Finn’s father, a hero who protected the Citadel, as seen below in the posted storyboard images. By God, am I glad they removed this scene entirely. First of all, this is way too much information to be glossed over so quickly and hardly elaborated on given the actual plot of the episode itself. Second, there’s no way in hell Finn is that dumb that he didn’t already know he was adopted. I just don’t believe that in the slightest. And besides, didn’t he already know that he was abandoned in the forest as a child? A pretty giant continuity error that would’ve been completely unbelievable. Third, Finn’s dad being a hero who is the guardian of another dimension is such a boring concept. I really like the route they eventually take with Finn’s father being a selfish jackass, and it made for a much more compelling story overall. It’s such a small scene, but it really had potential to screw-up a lot of loose ends as well as future story arcs.

TL 4.png

TL 5.png

TL 6.png

TL 7.png

The rest of the exposition exists in order to introduce Prismo and the time room, something heavily featured in the following episode that exists as a place to allegedly imprison the Lich. I think at this point in time, it’s pretty obvious that there’s something entirely sketchy and unnerving going on with Billy himself. The fact that he somehow acquired the Enchiridion from the bear, and his solemn, grotesque close-up are all key-components to Billy’s demise.

TL 8

Annnnnd then we get to the scene inside PB’s castle. I don’t even wanna know what the fuck she was doing to those poor little parasites whose limbs were being snipped off, but it was hilarious. Even more chortle-worthy was the fact that the parasites seem like they couldn’t give a shit the entire time. The one just exclaims, “hey” and continues to smile during the entire procedure. PB really can be one concerning momma sometimes. After that polarizing sequence, Finn bursts through the roof (no idea why he couldn’t just use the door, no time, I guess?) as he desperately tries to grab for PB’s jewel, only to accidentally be sliced by her scissors. It’s a very tense moment for both Finn and PB. After an entire season of Finn building up turmoil towards the princess and making an effort to try to get over her, I think this is really where Finn’s anger and agitation with Bubblegum reaches its pinnacle. This was a driving point that would cause issues in Finn and PB’s relationship for years to come, as they would calmly return to being friends after the episode, yet still have plenty of awkward and angsty interactions to come.

As Finn flees with the Enchiridion and the jewels combine with the ancient book (all except for LSP’s, which is both really funny and also builds lore in regards to her elemental prophecy), Princess Bubblegum blatantly reveals that Billy is merely being impersonated by the Lich, something that I feel like people read way too deeply into for a while. It makes you wonder how PB knew that Billy was the Lich, which people often theorized was a sign of PB’s tyranny, though I always just assumed it was something revealed to her by one of the Gumball Guardians. Whatever the reason, we do get a pretty gruesome reveal as half of Billy’s face is blown off, which unleashes the sinister creature.

The conversation between the Lich and Finn is not one of my favorite interactions between the two, but it’s every bit as chilling, uncomfortable, and dark as usual. The Lich makes some Emperor-type offers to Finn regarding promises of immortality and the secrets of existence, something which I do appreciate that the show has never really tackled head-on. Finn is someone who rarely ever battles with his morality, at least in his younger days, but someone who fights for justice based on everything he’s ever learned about being good. He never falls for the Lich’s negotiating and promises of something bigger than himself, as Finn never gambles with the idea that the Lich isn’t anything other than inherently evil. Of course, his desire for doing good is what causes Finn to unleash an emotional tirade of attempting to destroy the book, which is exactly what the Lich wanted. I’m not positive if the Lich knew destroying the book would open the portal to the time room, but it is the Lich, so I’m assuming he had every intention of playing with Finn’s emotional fragility in order to achieve his goal. This leads to a high-stakes travel sequence as Jake latches onto the Lich legs, with Finn following close behind. It’s a really intense scene that’s filled with anxiety that kept me on the edge of my seat on a first viewing. Even now, as I know what follows, I still appreciate the very hyperactive and intense atmosphere as the episode jumps from very subdued and lowkey to extremely urgent and vehement.

TL 9.png

The episode ends on one of AT’s most mysterious notes, as we’re treated to a more human-looking Finn complete with a nose and eye-whites, and a more dog-like Jake. We’ve entered the Farmworld, and, despite knowing practically nothing about it at the time, I think everyone figured that the normal, relaxed perception of the alternate reality of Ooo was soon in dire consequence of being obstructed. It’s one of the most mind-blowing endings in the entire series, and still one I hold close to me as a moment in the show that just completely caught me off guard. We’ll just have to wait until Season Five to explore Farmworld a bit more in detail.

And that’s the end of season four, folks! As always, thank you to the devoted readers for always coming back for more, and any readers who just joined in on the fun. Per usual, I’ll be covering the Season Four review next Friday, as well as a bonus review of the AT graphic novel Playing with Fire. Following next Friday, you can expect a Finn the Human/Jake the Dog double feature, so be prepared for lots of content in the next few weeks!

TL 10.png

Favorite line: “Guess I done  donked something up yet again.”

 

“BMO Noire” Review

BN 1.png

Original Airdate: August 6, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

BMO Noire is the first true BMO-centric episode of the series, and it quite delightfully blends experimental themes of black and white crime films with a hint of BMO development added in. This episode is essentially working off of everything we’ve learned about BMO so far; despite his childlike wonder, BMO wishes only one thing: to have normal “living” emotions like Jake and Finn. And while BMO does experience feelings deep down similar to his close friends, he still is a robot on the outside, which has kickstarted a lot of inner turmoil that has caused him to be almost borderline sociopathic at times. No matter how cute BMO is, there’s not denying that a lot that goes through his head and his everyday actions are generally fucked up. BMO Noire is essentially the best kind of episode to showcase this aspect of his character; it’s a fun and sweet adventure on the surface, but underneath is a layer of BMO’s dark and tortured imagination.

BN 3.png

It’s probably appropriate to start off this review by mentioning that BMO was totally playing with himself at the beginning of this episode. There is just simply no other way around it. The episode wastes no time, however, by immediately setting up the somewhat trivial conflict that is taken completely seriously by our robot friend. The episode pulls off many noir-themed references and homages very humorously as well as effectively. The episode, of course, is completely in black-and-white (something that Pendleton Ward was really psyched about doing), there’s the bit where BMO steps on his controller cord as if it were a cigarette bud, and the dialogue between the characters (or, in this case, the characters BMO has created) is all very 1950’s. A lot of the exchanges between BMO and his imaginary friends, though very amusing, can also be taken completely straight as well. This episode is full of its funny moments, but honestly, I found myself laughing a lot less after watching it this time around. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however. I just think anything noir-themed is pretty fucking cool, so I mostly enjoy this one out of admiration for its tone and style rather than believing it’s a straight-up hilarious parody of crime films, and I think that’s how most people feel as well. You can laugh at the fact that BMO is legitimately having a serious discussion about his past relationship with a chicken named Lorraine, but it’s played so dramatically by BMO that it still amazingly kind of works as a somewhat somber tale.

Of course, I also enjoy this one for the aforementioned development of BMO’s character. Throughout the episode, it’s filled with a lot of silly conversations between Ronnie the rat, Lorraine the chicken, Lieutenant Whiskers, and others that exist as talking figures in BMO’s imagination. They start out harmless and playful enough, but BMO’s dream sequence really sheds light to the questionable and histrionic elements of his actions. BMO concocted the entire scheme, meaning he stole from his friend, supposedly “killed” Bebe, put lipstick on F&J’s pet chicken, and knew the entire sequence was all in his imagination.

BN 4

It makes me question what exactly BMO’s motivation behind this elaborate plan was; was it to get attention from Finn and Jake and appear as a hero like the two of them do? Was it strictly for the cause of going on his own enjoyable investigation? Or, going off of the last reason, was it to ultimately feel more “human”? The dream sequence also suggests this aspect (boarded by Tom Herpich, who always does a standout job with dreams or hallucinations, but this is definitely an exceptional one) as BMO is briefly seen with a human face, the same human face seen in the title card for this episode. I think it once again stresses the fact at how BMO feels like a living creature and desires to be like any living creature, but simply cannot be one with the body he was given and the function he was, supposedly up to this point, made for. BMO will always be Finn and Jake’s cute, baby robot, but with any child, there are layers of hidden trauma and turmoil that I’m sure BMO himself isn’t completely cognizant about. The only thing he is aware of is that he has a conscious desire, without soundly too cliche, to “be more”. This is hinted during his exchange with NEPTR, leading to one of the funniest and most poignant lines of the episode, “no NEPTR, I am not like you.” It’s works as a laugh-worthy “fuck you” to Adventure Time’s most in-universally ignored character, but also as a glimpse into what BMO believes he truly is, and that’s something more than just a robot.

This heaviness is blended nicely with the fact that, once again, it is all in BMO’s imagination. I like all of his interactions with these characters, and how he’s able to effectively converse with Lorraine or Ronnie without them ever responding back. There’s a really great moment where Lieutenant Whiskers hands BMO a confession from Ronnie, and there’s just no way in the fucking world someone actually handed it to him. It just kinda sticks up out of nowhere, which harms the authenticity that all of this episode is just in BMO’s head, but it’s so hilarious that I don’t even really mind. There’s also moments reminding us that BMO is indeed still a robot, like the controller stomping I had mentioned and the bit where BMO splashes his face in water, only for his circuits to smoke a bit. I’m actually really glad Herpich got to work on this one. Not even for a writing reason, but I just feel like his really chunky and squishy drawings of the characters blend nicely with the black-and-white and old-timey feel of the episode. It was a nice stylized choice. Also, huge kudos to Niki Yang in this one. Ako Castuera refers to this one as a “Niki Yang voice acting extravaganza” in the commentary, and that’s pretty much the best way of putting it. Yang does an excellent job of pulling of different, distinct and silly voices for each of the newly introduced characters. 

BN 2

And after all the psychological issues he goes through, BMO is able to have a moment of victory and lightheartedness as Finn and Jake return home from Glob knows where. The staff would oddly elaborate on this subplot later in season five, but we’ll get to that when the time comes. The ending does hint that BMO does want to be more like Finn and Jake and go on adventures like the two of them, so it’s endearing that he’s able to have a brief moment of triumph at the fact that he saved the day, though it was secretly instigated by himself. We do get one final very small, yet effective scene at the end where BMO blushes at the thought at Lorraine, once again showing that he’s much more “human” than we were lead on to believe. Though he’s still a robot at the end of the day, BMO will always have his attributes that make him equivalent to any other lovable, yet troubled little boy.

I dig this one a ton. Like I said, it’s not one that I find particularly hilarious, but it’s filled with great atmosphere and interesting peeks into BMO’s character that I don’t mind at all. It’s silly, yet intense, and a perfect start to BMO’s descent into his own personal issues.

BN 5.png

Favorite line: “I feel like I got hit with a Dracula by King Kong.”

“Princess Cookie” Review

PC 1.png

Original Airdate: June 25, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

A brief update before I start this guys, this will be the last week for semi-daily reviews. I return to college for my junior year this upcoming weekend, and I just simply won’t be able to commit to this blog full-time for the time being. You can all still expect one or two reviews per week (hopefully), but attempting to do four a week like I have been would just be impossible. This blog is still a big passion project for me and I plan on finishing it till the very end, so I appreciate the patience of anyone who is reading. I still love revisiting these episodes of my very favorite show, so you can guarantee yourself that I’m involved with this project for the long-run! Without further ado, Princess Cookie.

PC 2.png

Crime and danger within the Candy Kingdom has been handled in very silly and comedic ways in the past. Susan Strong is a prime example of PB not giving a shit when it comes to possible threats to her kingdom that she doesn’t necessarily see as threats. However, like we saw in Goliad, PB’s feelings of unease and vulnerability once the Lich was unleashed certainly made her more aware of the possible dangers around her. Which is why in Princess Cookie, the situation is handled with a higher sense of concern and direness, as shown by the extended levels of Candy Kingdom military units. It makes the entire conflict of the episode seem much more intense and concerning than it really is, and alludes quite eerily to an actual hostage situation.

The character of Baby Snaps, and his connection to PB, is quite interesting to me. I think Baby Snaps as a character is sympathetic, though very clearly insane. His interaction with PB as a child is both tragic and somewhat hilarious, and that’s a pretty accurate summary for the character as a whole. I really enjoy how passionately he views his own desires and goals, yet, he always puts them in such a sincere and genuine way that his tone and inflections still come off as rather humorous to me. Tom Herpich and Pen Ward repeatedly mention in the commentary for this episode that they wanted Donald Faison, the voice of Princess Cookie, to play his lines completely seriously without even remotely trying to be goofy, and I think it really works on both a serious and amusing account. We take the character of Baby Snaps seriously, but also are able to laugh and how he personally takes everything so seriously himself. It’s a load of hammy tragicomedy packed into one single cartoon character that I think they pulled off exceedingly well for the type of story they wanted to tell.

PC 3

Back to the actual flashback sequence, which highlights the very dangerous element of what could potentially traumatize a child. Again, it’s a bit of a silly example, but it still accurately portrays the very devastating psychological effects one can have on a child from simply not taking them seriously or pandering down to them. Obviously we know PB wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt Baby Snaps’ feelings or even directly laugh in his face, but it still had a giant impact on the poor little cookie man that led him to serious corruption and mental instability. It’s very sad to see that an instance that Bubblegum likely doesn’t even remember happening led to the mental deterioration of one of her own citizens, and changed a relatively normal, loving child for the worse. There’s two other noteworthy things about this scene: 1. For a while, this scene was pretty confusing because it’s one of the first instances we see into Princess Bubblegum’s actual age. I thought it was originally an error that PB was older while Baby Snaps was a child, or that Baby Snaps grew rapidly over the course of a couple months or so, but now it’s evident why Princess Bubblegum seems relatively unaltered by time. 2. Why exactly did PB laugh at Baby Snaps? I mean, it seems pretty obvious, right? She laughed because Baby Snaps is a boy, and a very young boy at that, and a princess is typically defined as a feminine role of power in a family monarch. Well, in the Land of Ooo, apparently anyone of any gender can be a princess. It’s basically like being president, I guess. We see this with the King of Ooo later on, who is elected princess by people who don’t even seem to bat an eye at the fact that he’s a man. Not even PB. So, was she instead laughing because he was a child? I dunno, I’m just willing to assume it’s a part of the show that wasn’t really thought out ahead of time and now only slightly feels like a bit of discontinuity. That, or you could look at it the way I just mentioned, which seems a bit too condescending for PB to do to a young lad.

The connection with Jake and Baby Snaps is extremely heartwarming and likable. I think Jake’s moral ambiguity is arguably highly in question here, as he’s blatantly going against the law to help a criminal in what I’d called Stockholm syndrome in any other situation, but he’s clearly doing it because he does see the large aspect of tragedy within Baby Snaps character, and perhaps even a bit of himself. Jake didn’t have the cleanest past either, so he most likely see’s all the things that Baby Snaps could be if he left behind his criminal actions and started anew. I think it’s a very compelling depiction of Jake’s character; we’re used to seeing him just kind of go along with Finn and PB’s deeds, but here, he completely goes against both of them and does what he believes is the right path for everyone. Again, it’s hard to argue whether this is a great moral choice or not, but I don’t think the staff was really trying to push this off as a great message. Just that Jake was trying to help someone in need in his own unique way that would potentially lead to success from all sides of the party. The most fascinating concept behind this is that Finn is actually against Jake’s decision. Yeah, Jake willingly abandons Finn after he doesn’t agree with his decision, and while it’s sad to see the brothers at odds, it’s also quite nice to see them have a completely different perspective of the situation that makes sense for both parties. Finn’s all about doing things the conventional and lawful way, while Jake seems to base things on a more emotional level when it comes to bad or good.

PC 4

The scene with Baby Snaps’ monologue before he falls back into the canyon is both really heavy, and again, pretty funny. I know a lot of people see this as a straight-up tearjerker scene, but again, it’s riddled with lines that seem so cliche that I almost doubt the dialogue was meant to be taken so seriously. I still appreciate the sentiment Baby Snaps left for Jake before his seemingly final blow, only it fails because I guess Candy People are pretty incapable of committing suicide. Luckily enough, Baby Snaps is able to receive the potential help he needs, while also ruling over the Grasslands as a newly elected ruler. It’s a beautifully crafted grand climax that just makes for a delightful ending, as we’re able to see both the consequences for Baby Snaps’ actions, and the positive future that he may hold. All hail Princess Cookie! In fact, I may take back my previous complaint about male citizens being able to be elected princesses. Perhaps Baby Snaps was the first male princess in all of Ooo, which ushered in a new era of men who wanted in on the princess action as well. What an interesting subvert that would be!

This episode’s riddled with funny moments, along with the bits I mentioned above about Baby Snaps in general, and a special highlight going towards Finn acting as Jake’s shadow. It’s such a bizarre and ridiculous idea that would almost make no sense on paper, but it’s executed in an especially clever and hilarious way that it never ceases to amaze me. There’s zany lines of dialogue, as always, including the widespread favorite “Alvin’s hot juicebox,” which I still have no idea what the intention behind that one was. There’s also a lot of great callbacks, from the cameo of Goliad and Stormo locked in psychic combat in the background to the return of the Baby Whoozlefut & the Wuttlebugs book, as well as PB learning a thing or two from Ice King by trying to sway Baby Snaps with a poo-brained horse. Also, poor Jake just wants to be a mailman. Is there a specific detail of Jake that makes him incapable of being a mailman? Is it the fact that dogs are portrayed as anti-mailmen? You shouldn’t assume those things of Jake. Racist!

PC 5

If there’s one overall criticism I have for this one, the drawings are a bit wonky. It looks like Herpich worked on a good majority of this one, and his boarding and general designs of the characters usually look great, but there’s something that feels off. Finn’s face is really stretched out to the point where it looks like an oval, and the general size of the characters look distorted in some scenes. There’s a bit at the beginning and towards the middle where the Banana Guards look GIGANTIC, they’re seriously taking up like, half the screen. There’s also a couple of other errors, such as the chip who is supposedly doing a double jump in the air (though this may have been an error on the animation department, Herpich mentions it didn’t translate as well as he wanted it to) and a couple brief continuity errors, such as the many times PB changes the position of her arms while holding Baby Snaps as a child.

Besides that, I think this one’s great. Lots of intense moments with an overall sweet side, that elaborates on more character studies between Jake and PB, as well as a brand new character central to the story. It’s one that hits all the right feelings of raw emotionality as well as fun and endearing, while still covering a very satisfying story in the course of 11 minutes.

Favorite line: “It’s funny, but you sort of remind me of a mailman I used to know.”

“Goliad” Review

G 1.png

Original Airdate: June 4, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

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

G 2.png

Love this opening boarded by Skyler Page.

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

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

G 3.png

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

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

G 4.png

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

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

G 5.png

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

“In Your Footsteps” Review

IYF 1.png

Original Airdate: May 7, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Skyler Page & Tom Herpich

In Your Footsteps follows up with a story arc that had be shelved since the season two finale: the much anticipated return of the Lich. We all knew he would make his triumphant reappearance in the snail host body eventually, and it was really reassuring that we had something big to look forward to. Ultimately though, it’s an episode that feels a bit hollow at its center, and really doesn’t do much for me besides being blatant setup.

IYF 2.png

The beginning is demonstrated nicely. Skyler Page really crafted some nice shots during his time on the show that feel very fluid and poppy, example being when Finn first enters the party. It’s really funny and a legitimately cool entrance for our little guy. There’s also a couple of funny, quirky moments at the dance party. I like how when we’re introduced to the bear, Jake just generally assumes that the bear is anthropomorphic, as most animals are in the Land of Ooo. I’m wondering if Jake just guessed that the bear spoke and was ignoring him, or just something about the bear rubbed Jake the wrong way. Either way, nice moment to set up their entire conflict. Also, I love how Finn returns to the picnic table with two cups that say “Starchy” and “Cinnamon Bun” on them. Finn just blatantly took other people’s cups. That’s kind of awesome. I didn’t really like the the early utilization of the Enchirdion, however. I thought it was cool that he used the book to save the bear, but I sort of just wish they left it at that. The fact that Finn goes on his spiel about, “oh yeah, it’s the Enchirdion! The hero’s handbook! It’s a super important book! I got in back in season one, episode five, as a matter of fact!” well, I’m exaggerating, but it was pretty obvious to me at that point that the Enchiridion would have had some significance in the episode, and it just really made it feel like a plot device from this moment on.

As for the main conflict, well, it’s a bit confusing to me. I think it kind of works against the episode that the bear doesn’t talk, honestly, because I’m really sort of perplexed on what his motivations are as a character. Was his plot to dress like Finn and pretend to be Finn so Finn himself would eventually give him the Enchirdion? Or did his plot work out all along and it was to make Finn feel bad for him and eventually give him the book? In that case, why did the bear slap Jake in the face? Why did he eat all of Finn’s Finn cakes? Why was he dressed up pretending to be Finn in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t it have just been easier to quickly swipe the Enchridion while Finn was sleeping? His plan seems all types of convoluted, and I really can’t get behind what his strategy was because we don’t know anything about him. He’s just sort of a blank slate at the Lich snail’s command, and so it’s sort of hard to really even buy into his plan. In addition to that, I’m sure y’all know I’m not really a fan of these types of stories. They covered this type of story briefly in Paper Pete, and this one takes it up to eleven by really stressing the idea that Jake thinks the bear is bad news but Finn just can’t see it with his own eyes. It’s just a really frustrating type of story to watch, and very few shows ever get it right. It doesn’t even really know what genre it wants to be either. It could’ve been a lot more interesting to me if the bear wanting to be Finn was just a completely different story with horror elements incorporated. That sounds pretty dope if you ask me, and the first part seems committed to it, but the second half goes more for the generic sitcom-y sort of root.

IYF 3

That being said, I actually think the episode did okay with it and still managed to keep the characters likable and in character. There are still some very enjoyable moments in this one. The “tops blooby” expression is one of favorite wacky catchphrases in the entire show, and one I find myself uttering it quite frequently, actually. Jake is still very entertaining to watch, despite being at the butt of the plot’s expense. I really like how his feelings towards the bear go from jealousy to concern, yet he actually does listen to Finn and understands where he’s coming from. Also, I like how his actions towards the bear don’t dumb Jake down in anyway. He records the bear eating Finn’s Finn cakes instead of preventing him, of course, but that just generally seems like something Jake would do. It leads to the obvious root of Finn being pissed off at Jake, but it almost had me siding with Finn in the sense where I was thinking, “yeah, why didn’t you just stop him??” But again, it’s still kind of difficult to get through knowing Finn should have just been mad at the bear to begin with and that we know exactly what route it’s headed in. It is tedious, but as I mentioned, it’s the individual scenes that make it tolerable: the slow iris out with Jake quickly blurting “I knew it!”, Jake referring to PB as Finn’s ex, followed by Finn’s awkward response to it, and everyone stating the obvious that they knew the fucking giant bear with a paper mask wasn’t even Finn. Also, I need an episode with BMO at soccer practice. That scene with him rolling the ball on the ground as Finn and Jake argued fucking killed me, and the general idea that Finn takes him to and from soccer practice is just hilarious. I can imagine their conversation as Finn picks him up, “how was practice today, sport?”

The conflict of the episode ultimately leads to Finn giving the Enchirdion away, which I think is a pretty big stretch, considering they know of its importance. I do like how Finn mentions that they rarely ever use it, only for sitting on when the grass is wet, which explains its long-term absence. What I’m most pissed about isn’t actually the episode’s fault at all, but the fact that Cartoon Network spoiled the freakin’ ending in the preview for the episode. That was a complete low blow on their part, and definitely not the first time they’ve done something so spoilerly in regards to this or any of their other shows. But the twist in general I think is pretty great, and leaves you with a feeling of anticipation and dread as we slowly await for the Lich to return again very, very soon.

IYF 4.png

So I think this one is decent. It has a lot working against it, but the individual character moments and gags are really what power it through. It still feels a bit flimsy to me in both direction and motivation especially regarding the bear, so I can’t technically call it a good episode in terms of story, but there’s enough good things in it that I can still find many other reasons to rewatch despite everything going against it.

Favorite line: “She’s not my… we never went steady.”

“Five Short Graybles” Review

FSG 1.png

Original Airdate: April 9, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich, Cole Sanchez & Skyler Page

The Graybles episodes never quite reached the heights of the other experimental types of stories AT has pursued. The guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have produced quality material that the Graybles stories haven’t been able to meet in my personal list of favorites. Though, I can say, where some guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have failed somewhat severely, I’ve never thought too poorly of any of the Graybles. They’re simplistic and cute stories that later contribute to the lore of the show’s world, but for now, they’re simply the former. And there’s nothing wrong with that, this one actually reminds me a lot of 22 Short Films of Springfield, one of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Graybles episodes stemmed from, Pen Ward is a huge Simpsons fan after all.

FSG 2.png

It starts out very uniquely, with the introduction of Cuber, voiced by Emo Phillips. It’s later revealed that he’s a futuristic dude, but I’m pretty sure in this one, we’re just kind of supposed to look at him as the narrator. But he’s pretty cool, though this is probably his most generic appearance. He later lends himself to some creative and clever scenarios, but here he’s just kind of in it to do his job, and that is to explain the purpose behind Graybles. It’s a decent first appearance, and I really do love Emo Phillips as a voice actor. Check out his stand-up if you haven’t, it’s hilarious!

The first story starts out with BMO, and it’s by far the best. It’s a pretty stellar look into BMO’s psyche that introduces the recurring character of Football, as well as BMO’s underlying desires of wanting to be a human, or wanting to relate to humans. It’s really cute and almost tragic in a way; I really love seeing the little guy take so much pride in what he’s doing, but at the same time, he’s putting on a farce that will later become a larger burden for him and lead to a psychological breakdown. I never get tired of watching him pee through that glass of water, though. Really nice voice acting from Niki Yang, as always.

Finn and Jake’s story is a bit simplistic, but I do enjoy their somewhat masochistic behavior and the depths they’ll go to perfect a measly high-five. The framing device with our main duo is pretty great: their high-five pretty much carries through and builds up till the very end, which caps off in a pretty satisfying and funny ending, but we’ll get to that in a bit. I also love the unique shots we get to see as they run at each other in a pretty cinematic way. This is Skyler Page’s first time boarding for AT, and he really showcased some of his talents by drawing shots we don’t typically get to see in the series.

FSG 3.png

PB’s sandwich sequence is terrific! It’s a really drawn-out scene, but one that never feels like it’s dragging or stale. It’s done through all kinds of visual gags, such as the poor cow that endures that somewhat bizarre contraption, or his block of cheese that’s converted into a single slice using a sewing machine. Then there’s the pure absurdity of PB hitting a head of lettuce with a baseball bat for some reason. Wouldn’t it have made a cleaner slice if she just chopped it up? Also, it’s interesting to see Bubblegum using what is presumed to be black magic. They acknowledge this in the commentary, and no one really has a reason to back it up. I’m just gonna call this one a brief continuity error. And that final bit with Cinnamon Bun was all types of fucking nasty, in the best way possible. I cringe every time I watch his body spew out that diarrhea-like slop.

Ice King’s story is pretty damn funny. I love how 90% of it is just him abusing his penguins. First he sends Gunther off on a block of ice for smelling bad, then he uses penguins to clean himself off and abrasively throws in them in the trash afterwards. It’s some pretty horrifically amusing stuff that only Ice King could get away with, and only seems to get funnier each time I watch those suffering penguins. At least Ice King was partially right about what smelled by the end of it.

Finally, we have LSP’s story. Nothing much to say for this one from me; I never really cared for the These Lumps song too much and I think the story itself is a bit dry. Save for the ending though, which I think is a terrific punchline with Finn and Jake abruptly being named the winners of the talent show instead of LSP. That was priceless. A lot of oddly mean-spirited humor in this episode, wasn’t there?

FSG 4.png

Of course, there’s also the connecting theme. I think this one’s pretty obvious, and also because I had already read somewhere what the motif would be before I had even seen the episode. Despite that, I do commend the writers for introducing this type of brainteaser that would eventually get more difficult as the episodes went along. I think this one worked fine, but the creativity and ambiguity of the themes would only good up from here. I think it’s something neat that helps the youngins do some thinking while they’re watching.

So, I like it. It’s a cute introduction to a new series of stories within the series, and pertains a sense of enjoyability and intrigue throughout. It’s always fun revisiting these because I often forget which story happened when (I could’ve swore Tree Trunks was in this one), and it’s always fun to watch AT in such a chronicle structure.

Favorite line: “I thought you had a stank booty, Gunter. My bad.”