Tag Archive | Steve Wolfhard

“Reboot” Review

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Original Airdate: November 19, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard 

Preboot alone had already raised several questions and opened new doors for the series in general, so it’s surprising that its sequel episode, Reboot, seeks to answer zero questions and instead manages to be even more ambiguous. Reboot, in many ways, is one big mess. There’s hardly any resemblance of a story, the humor falls flat a majority of the time, and the animation is often underwhelming. Yet, I find myself strangely captivated by this one. Out of every episode in the series, I think I can say with utter certainty that I don’t think I’ve ever been on the edge of my seat more than I was with Reboot. It’s a high-speed, stressful rush that, once started, never really lets up until the very end of the episode when things just… end. It’s likely the most abrupt that an episode of AT has ever closed out, and I think it’s somewhat ingeniously executed. Right when the episode is at the peak of its intensity, things suddenly stop, leaving the viewer (at least, from my personal perspective) wanting even more. AT has always been good at teasing its fanbase for what’s ahead, but with the end in sight, I think everyone was much more optimistic about the unraveling of said mysteries rather than feeling cheated.

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There isn’t a whole lot to analyze or go over for this one, aside from simply emphasizing my points from the intro paragraph. From the moment Susan’s implant goes haywire, the episode transitions into a frenzied, anxiety-ridden sequence, and anxiety-ridden is a pretty decent description to how every character reacts in this episode: Finn must resist the impulse of allowing his grass sword to take over, PB must find a way to save everyone without causing harm to anyone, and Jake is faced with his failure to resist protecting his brother at all costs, even if that means hurting those around him. Of all of these introspective character moments, I think I especially like Finn’s mini-arc. With all of the power literally in the palm of his hand, Finn can so easily allow himself to be saved if he just simply gives into those urges. Though, in his eyes, it doesn’t seem like a viable option. After everything that happened with Finn Sword, I think Finn is afraid to even allow the grass sword any kind of power, in fear of hurting anyone like he previously did. Finn’s fear of hurting others and his inability to properly fight and defend himself in the process progressively becomes a more consistent part of his character as the series continues, and he only continues to struggle with similar circumstances from this point on.

When I appeared on the RE-Cast podcast back in September, I joked that the episode title From Bad to Worse could easily apply to any episode in the series. If I had to pick a more appropriate episode for that title, it would certainly be Reboot. I really love how much the episode plays around with just how strong Susan is, and any attempt to actually stop her only makes things exceedingly more dangerous. I think it’s a little bit contrived that Susan’s chip absorbed the Gumball Guardian’s blast, but even then, I do think it’s fun to watch all of these really strong and not-so-strong characters go against Susan with relatively no chance of succeeding. It becomes a bit repetitive after a while, but I really think it adds to the tension that Susan is absolutely unstoppable, and it really makes you wonder just how exactly she’s going to be stopped.

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AT is a cartoon, so more often than not, pain feels and is executed in a very temporary fashion. For the most part, however, everything presented in Reboot feels kind of gruesome. Rattleballs is smashed to bits, Finn and Susan suffer long-lasting injuries following this episode, and even Jake gets royally fucked up to the point that a ton of fans actually thought he was dead. Like, no kidding. There was a point in time when fans thought that Jake had died 40 episodes before the series finale. While it’s easy to dismiss this theory as ridiculous, it really goes to show how well this episode presents pain and injury. It’s kept mostly light at first with the absurd catchphrase “yubba dubba dubba,” but by the time Jake utters it, it feels more concerning than comedic. Even though Jake is one of our main characters, the stakes within this episode feel so real that you can’t really help but question his well being yourself.

But before he does end up biting the dust, Jake assists his brother in fighting off Susan. The scene in which Finn slides up Jake’s body and transforms into the Jake Suit is legitimately one of my favorite moments in the entire series. The momentum, timing, camera angle, and music are so Goddamn pitch-perfect that it legitimately took my breath away the first time I had seen it, and still does to this day! The fight sequence that follows is less remarkable for its lack in fluidity, but I do somewhat admire it for being a uniquely choreographed battle. The camera pretty much stays in one spot as Jake Suit and Susan perform a number of different wrestling moves on each other, and it’s neat, despite the middling animation. The most tense moment in the episode is easily when Finn’s grass sword does go berserk and begins to crush Susan with all of its might. Again, tying back to what I was saying earlier, we should know that no lasting damages are actually going to happen to Susan, but execution is everything with Reboot and it feels quite stressful and unpreventable. If that wasn’t enough, however, the episode leaves us with one of the biggest “what the fuck” moments in the series, as Finn’s grass sword leaves his body, merges with the Finn Sword, and becomes an entire being in the course of a few seconds. Finn is once again left armless (permanently, this time!) and an entirely separate story arc has now emerged itself into the main story. Once again, in typical Adventure Time fashion, things only continue to get exceptionally crazier and lore heavy down the line.

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So, I really can’t defend Reboot on all levels. Besides its somewhat sloppy pacing and forced jokes, there are some minor to major inconsistencies that this episode presents. I appreciated that they brought back Finn’s immunity to electricity, but what was the point if they have him getting shocked by Susan’s headpiece only a few seconds later? And, in a more pressing issue, Susan’s lab name from Dr. Gross appears to be “Strong,” which is a bit of an unbelievable coincidence. In the episode Susan Strong, Finn simply gave Susan that name because of her physical appearance. Now we’re supposed to believe that it was also her code name all along? Yeaaaah, I don’t buy that at all. It’s right up there with Gunter riding a “G” labeled boat in Orgalorg. However, plot holes and story issues aside, I still have to commend this episode for being as thrilling and entertaining as an Adventure Time episode can be. It’s kind of like how I feel with Star Wars: The Force Awakens… it has its major and minor issues, but it’s such a damn fun ride that I really don’t mind. Reboot is far from a perfect episode, but it’s almost as if it makes up for it by being a perfect experience: a fun, invigorating journey that leaves me wanting more. And I think that’s a pretty fair compromise, especially considering that it is season seven’s grand finale.

So yeah, that’s it for season seven y’all! As always, I want to thank all of you for tuning in and making this such a fun side gig. This year alone, AT Reviewed has racked up almost 45,000 views, which is amazing! You guys rock, and I’m so glad to be sharing this experience with you. Per usual, the review and bonus review will be coming shortly (likely on Sunday or Monday), and I’m excited to announce that I’m back to posting semi-daily reviews and plan on covering at least half of season eight throughout the next month. Stay tuned, y’all! Some of the series’ best entries lie ahead.

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Favorite line: “We need a finger, not a thumb. Finesse, boi!”


“Daddy-Daughter Card Wars” Review

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Original Airdate: July 7, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Adam Muto

One of the more common complaints I see being thrown at Daddy-Daughter Card Wars is that Card Wars gameplay is generally glanced over in favor of a story that has practically nothing to do with Card Wars. But honestly, that’s one of this episode’s perks. I mean, did people really just want to see straightforward gameplay for a second time? We already saw that in the original Card Wars, and even then, the game wasn’t really the main focus. It was more about Jake’s unhealthy obsession with the game itself, and how an opposing side of his typically calm and charismatic demeanor was unraveled. That being said, I’m glad Daddy-Daughter Card Wars is what it is. It works semi-successfully to wrap up Jake’s regretful past history, while also giving us more insight into where this turmoil comes from. It’s also essentially Charlie’s debut episode, of whom may just be my favorite of the pups.

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Charlie’s simply delightful. It’s interesting to me that it took her this long to be given a speaking role within the series, as she’s easily the most interesting and unique of her siblings. Aside from having obscure interests, a rad pyramid to hangout in, and intriguing psychedelic connections, she possesses the coolest abilities out of all of the pups. While most of the pups’ powers seem to be relatively basic, Charlie is able to grow to a size so big to the point where she’s literally able to walk across the Earth. That is awesome. In general, she’s really charming and enjoyable in her demeanor as well. She’s quite snarky to Jake throughout the entirety of the episode, and it’s a ton of fun to watch. It mostly comes off as loving and sweet, in contrast to the harsh and detached ways T.V. and Kim Kil Whan can often act towards their father.

I feel like the real thing that makes their relationship fun to watch is that they’re essentially both using each other. I’m often disheartened when the show either has entire episodes focused on Jake being a shitty dad or one of his pups being a shitty kid, but I think this episode has it balanced by showing off both of their shitty sides: Jake merely wants to resolve his past issues (without realizing that he’s adding fuel to that turmoil) and unknowingly recruits Charlie’s help to do so, while Charlie will only help her “poppa” out under the condition that he provides her with something (which is a scene that still freaks me the fuck out to this day. There’s something unnerving about Jake so easily pulling off a piece of his fingerbone).

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Though, it undoubtedly gets a bit muddled at times… about halfway through, Charlie realizes that she regrets not helping out Jake in the past, and it seems like the episode is attempting to paint Charlie as the bad guy in this situation… buuut, shouldn’t Jake also deal with some kind of repercussion regarding his treatment of Charlie? It’s a lot of fun seeing Jake as an absolute, boiling mess in Daddy-Daughter Card Wars, but I guess a tiny complaint I do have is that I feel like he’s a little bit too much of an asshole at times. Adam Muto and Steve Wolfhard do their best to make up for it, like when he literally offers Charlie every bone in his body if she would just simply spend an hour of her day helping him out, but there were certain scenes that rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t care how much Jake cares about Card Wars, I hate that he doesn’t save BMO in the beginning. I mean, my God, that’s your son dude! Granted, BMO jumping off the boat was hilarious, and I’m glad it was left it, but I thought the execution was a bit too harsh for my liking and it kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth for the remainder of the episode.

That aside, Jake is mostly enjoyable throughout the remainder of the episode. I’ll reiterate, I love seeing him so violently passionate about something. Jake’s mortality has nearly been as prominent of an arc as Finn’s aging process has, and it was really melancholic to see how wary he is for the near future. It is neat that Jake does have some form of self-acknowledgement about his regrets, and wants to at least move forward, even if he doesn’t really know how. In Jake’s head, becoming “dignified” means being able to achieve the victory against Grand Prix that he presumably never had, though it’s made clear by the episode of this episode that becoming dignified means accepting and becoming content with his shortcomings. I like how Jake’s conflict with Grand Prix also goes beyond that fact that he’s simply better at playing Card Wars, but that he also ended up with Moniker, Jake’s ex-girlfriend, which symbolically places him on a higher pedestal in Jake’s eyes. The connection between Moniker and Jake is also delightfully tense, complete with Jake being as awkward as he’s ever been. I like to think that Moniker was likely Jake’s first real significant other, which presumably fuels Jake’s anger and jealousy even more. It feels relatable in the sense that there’s always people from your past that you either hate or are simply envious of, and one has to constantly prove to themselves that they’re better than those people for some kind of unauthentic gratification. The scenes that emphasize Jake’s turmoil are really well done, and I love that the flowing, vigorous stream is a consistent audio cue to signify Jake’s feelings. I also enjoy how his relationship and battling within himself comes into play frequently. After Charlie leaves, Jake first adopts some of his old tactics and behaviors (by creating a duplicate of his past self) and then eventually becomes his old self (by morphing into his devilish, angered form). It’s a really nice touch in the visual department, and that goes for all of Jake’s facial expressions in general. Wolfhard and Muto clearly had a lot of fun with this one, and it helps that these dramatic expressions makes the episode feel like a true sequel to Card Wars.

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The most interesting bit in this episode is easily Charlie’s psychic visions of the future, which paints a bleak, yet deeply poignant vision of what lies ahead. I do like how Charlie’s foreseeable future contrasts with how Jake views each decade; while Jake assumes that he’s supposed to be a certain thing by a specific time in his life, Charlie’s look into the future proves that she really isn’t going to have things figured out until the very end of her life, and that’s pretty much life in a nutshell. While it seems that Charlie does live a fulfilling life, and ends up having a child of her own (none other than Gibbon!), it’s apparent that she also deals with the natural tragedies of existence as well: fearing what lies ahead, feeling intrinsically alone, and losing those close to her as she continues to age. While Jake assumes that he’s supposed to be dignified by this point in his life, he’s adding stress and turmoil to his life by not realizing the vast complexities that life offers. It isn’t until Charlie adopts the demeanor and lifestyle of her 90-year-old self that Jake is able to be “content” in his life, both in his regrets and his future. Though, to be honest, I thought that this was a pretty lazy conclusion. It feels like Jake didn’t really learn anything, and that he was simply altered by Charlie’s ability to give him this knowledge. I feel like it kind of tarnishes what the episode was trying to accomplish if he doesn’t go through the actual process of understanding his wrongdoings, and merely just adopts this knowledge regardless. What if in Don’t Look, instead of hearing what his friends have to say about him to help him to shape his self-view, Jake simply just walked up to Finn, touched him, and shouted “self-acceptance,” and that was that? It’s pretty uninspired and feels cheap. Though, I still do like Jake’s casual acceptance of his loss, and his official burial of his 20’s. Haha, okay.

I think Daddy-Daughter Card Wars is ultimately decent. It’s stronger points are definitely with Charlie, but of course, I’m biased. I think it does have some flaws in the execution of its story and Jake’s character arc as a whole, but nothing that’s especially detrimental to the quality of the episode, aside from the resolution itself. It’s still funny, thoughtful, and has a lot of nice backgrounds/drawings that translate well into the animation process. Two last notes: I do love how everyone within Jake’s contact list in My Two Favorite People is now accounted for thanks to this episode! So cool how they all have somewhat of an active role in this world, even if they’re only on-screen for like, two seconds. Also, Wolfhard drew up a prequel comic for this episode over on the AT tumblr. Check it out here! It’s tons o’ fun, and ties into the central theme of the episode quite nicely.

Semi-daily reviews return in two weeks! Until then, stay tuned for the double review release of Preboot/Reboot next week!

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Favorite line: Hey, you two been kissing?”

“The More You Moe, The Moe You Know” Review

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Original Airdate: December 3, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

This promo comic really sums up all of the heartwrenching material I’ve experienced through this one.

The More You Moe, The Moe You Know was an episode that was announced a few months before its initial airdate at New York Comic-Con, and I always assumed that a “BMO themed holiday special” would merely be a light (but delightful) Christmas-themed episode to take the edge off of how dark I had theorized Stakes to be. But, keeping in the tradition of what Holly Jolly Secrets started, Adventure Time continues to churn out the most dark and devastating holiday specials known to man. And honestly, this is another one of my favorites. Top 3 of all-time, without a question. I’ve always had a soft spot for BMO in general, but so much of this episode represents – at least, in my eyes – what makes Adventure Time so profound and special. Essentially, AT is one big coming of age story, and The More You Moe, The Moe You Know feels like a super-compressed version of that featuring the show’s most innocently naive character.

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It is a sweet idea that we’ve finally gotten an episode dedicated to the birthday of each of the Tree Fort boys. I do wonder how exactly BMO’s birthday was decided, however: was it the day BMO was actually built? Was it the anniversary of the day he met Finn and Jake? Or was it simply a random day BMO chose for the sake of following social norms? I like to think it was the latter, but I think any one of those options is appropriate. It’s also cute to once again witness BMO’s absolute affinity for his creator. Going back to my notion regarding social norms, I think BMO’s adoration towards Moe mostly derives from the fact that he, like the friends that he surrounds himself with, has some sort of parent of whom he can owe his life to. Finn and Jake have Joshua and Margaret, and NEPTR has Finn, so BMO is able to feel more “human” through having a legitimate maker that directly has an impact on BMO’s identity as a whole. This is something that also ties in as important later on, during BMO’s reflections.

Of course, the Moe we do get treated to isn’t the Moe we were expecting, and his mission for BMO is certainly ambiguous. What really makes BMO himself is his demeanor and mindset that unarguably represents that of a small child. BMO is programmed with knowledge and abilities beyond comprehension, but when it comes down to it, he’s really just like any other child. Thus, the scariest thing to BMO, along with pretty much any child and people of any age in general, is the unknown. Growing up is obviously something that Adventure Time has touched on consistently; whether it be Finn and Jake’s entire individual arcs, some passing lines in Another Five More Short Graybles from Jake Jr., Nurse Poundcake’s humorous backstory in The Diary, or even the entirety of the Stakes miniseries, it goes without staying that this is a big thematic element within the world of Adventure Time. Though, everyone deals with it in a very unique way, with BMO included. While each character seems to deal with specific issues that arise throughout their period of growth, BMO’s hang-up deals with something much, much more complex: the concept of growing up in general. I certainly don’t mean to downplay the complexity non-vague issues, like Finn coming to terms with the fact that his father doesn’t care for him, or that Marceline feels as though she is physically and mentally incapable of moving on from her past, but there is something so specifically threatening about being completely unsure of what you’re getting into. And I can’t think about a single issue that represents those feelings of uncertainty rather than the idea of growing up, of which is presented tremendously through BMO’s little monologue.

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One of the most sorrowful moments from this episode is complete absence of Air during BMO’s attempted conversation. While it could have been an attempt to excuse LeVar Burton’s inability to return to the recording booth, it feels much more like a poignant method of having BMO release his feelings to a close confidant, even if it’s more to get his thoughts out than anything. BMO’s vision of being an adult is delightfully silly, but made somewhat atmospheric by the grainy filter surrounding it. This episode really succeeds in attention to color and diversifying different shots. Considering that there are a ton of different flashbacks and imaginations sequences throughout, the visual appeal of the episode experiments with several color schemes that really helps each excerpt pop. What really strikes me as moving during BMO’s dialogue, however, is his worrisome expression of, “but then, if I change, will Finn and Jake still love me? Will I still love them?” It’s made pretty clear by this statement that BMO isn’t necessarily scared of the trials he will face when he grows up, but rather if he will even be the same person that he currently is. This is a scary part of change that everyone deals, and BMO’s vision of the distorted versions of Finn and Jake further emphasize this anxious feeling of the two becoming unrecognizable to himself. Which leads him to the prompt of, “does growing up just change your body, or also your soul?” BMO has built up so much happiness for himself through the people who surrounds himself with and his daily imaginative activities in general, and doesn’t recognize that he has the ability to grow while also keeping his loved ones near and dear to him. Thus, the concept of growing up instead gets conflicted with his anxiety of growing into a completely different person, and BMO would much rather stay the same forever than to face those consequences. His turmoil feels very profound, real, and convincing. Even if we know that it’s irrational to think that Finn and Jake would never stop loving BMO, it is hard to know what will derive from any sort of big life change, and growing up is a significant event that often brings about significant life changes. Though, growing is only a state of mind, and BMO has yet to realize that it’s a gradual part of his life, rather than one big epiphany.

After going through that big, analytical spiel, I might as well mention the nice little side roles that Finn and Jake have in this episode, which are great! Wolfhard covers most of the F&J scenes, and really carries forth his sharpest sense of humor. Jake hiding himself from Moe is both hilarious and kind of fitting for Jake’s character. Somewhat tying into the central theme of the episode, Jake is just as scared of becoming a different person as he grows old as BMO is. Though, Jake’s fears are a bit more materialistic, as he worries he’ll simply be an old coot that listens to the world decaying in the process. The way the boys quickly warm up to “Moe” is cute, and the show does a pretty good job at keeping his identity convincing, for the most part, until the near end of the episode.

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In general, this one does a really good job of keeping its audience on edge by constantly playing around with who the true “villain” is. At first, it seems like DMO is randomly supposed to be the antagonist (who is sadly not voiced by Aziz Ansari) and then the later appearance of All-MO is seemingly foreboding as well, though BMO never sits around to consider the actual possibility of there being one true “villain” to oppose him. He instead continues to ponder about his life and begins to humor the idea of never knowing if everything is okay or totally haywire, which seems like a concept that is entirely normalized by anyone who is actually grown. It’s another visual interesting sequence, and it makes me realize more and more how similar this one is to Lemonhope in exploring interesting thought processes through really unique and experimental visualizations. Of course, a lot of that can likely be contributed to the fact that Tom Herpich and Wolfhard worked on both, but this one really shines through in being the better example of AT being at its most unique in its visuals and storytelling. And while Lemonhope seemed to prioritize its title character’s inner struggles over the actual content of the story in some parts, The More You Moe is very committed to telling an engaging story, while also sprinkling in a delightful bit of soul-searching. In addition to being equally as funny most of the time, which really shines through in All-MO’s explanation of what happened within the MO factory. The expository dialogue has some great gems, such as, “if you wanted a free hug, all you had to do was ask! No one could say no, it was a rule,” and “until one fateful day… yesterday.” Herpich and Wolfhard seem to be particularly good at incorporating humor in moments that really shouldn’t be funny, but are made funny in execution regardless. Thus, All-MO ends up being a pretty enjoyably off-kilter character, despite the fact that his creation essentially means that we won’t ever see the other MOs again. Definitely a bummer, though this character did remain thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

As we transition into the second part of this one, it begins to become apparent that Finn and Jake are pretty fed up with Moe’s shit, after he cries during their “classic” imitation of Prisoners of Love and offers some of the most boring consoling experiences imaginable. The “hangman” sequences are really great, and it’s hilarious to me how much Finn and Jake get into the concept of it. To be fair, it is an awesome name for a game, but their reactions to the true nature of the game itself are priceless. It doesn’t help that the game only comes with one solvable puzzle, and that being “Bur-guess Mere-dithe.” And this is where “Moe”‘s facade begins to gradually fall, and the true identity of AMO starts to unravel.

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AMO is easily designed to be equivalent to that of a spoiled toddler, but his delusions of the properties of love and his desire to destroy anything and everything that gets in his way of being admired is what makes him truly standout as one of my favorite AT baddies. The initial reveal of the appearance of his room is straight out of a horror movie, and does a great job at visually describing what kind of a character AMO is: a ripped doll with the words “love me” written above it in the vents and the skeleton of a once existent hamster shows how willingly AMO is to get violent towards anything that cannot directly show him love, and how he is unable to care for and to feel loving feelings because of the way he was programmed. As All-MO eloquently states, “such is the cruel physics of love, that those who crave it most will repel it,” it seems apparent that AMO was, more than any other MO that followed, a failed experiment. Moe likely wanted to build a robot that would act and behave like BMO, but did not truly understand that building a robot that could only receive love would actively work against his intended programming. Moe’s intention was to build a robot that could be in-sync with human emotions, but without fully understanding those underlying physics of love, he ended up, in turn, creating a sociopath.

And that sociopathic nature really shows when he knocks out poor ol’ NEPTR (who has been the victim of many sadistic beatings this season!) and tries to get him out of the picture so he can exclusively covet Finn and Jake’s love for himself. Aside from AMO’s misunderstanding of love, he truly does not understand BMO’s relationship with Finn and Jake. His only understanding is that F&J love BMO, but truly does not comprehend how exactly BMO reciprocates that love. In AMO’s head, he honestly believes that love can only be expressed by one devoting their entire life to another person. AMO thinks that F&J spend their days showing relentless affection towards BMO, but does not realize why the boys love BMO to begin with. And of course, when AMO has failed to receive the “love” that he thinks he deserves, he in turn decides to reject it and to get rid of Finn and Jake all together. AMO’s cannon phaser is executed in an excruciatingly painful way. They really pack a punch every single time AMO utilizes said weaponry, and it never feels as though the cannonballs are wasted. Each shot appears to be legitimately painful and threatening to our protagonists, especially when BMO is continuously shot later on. Wolfhard did leave a note within the storyboard that states, “the ball noises should be distinct & memorable,” and it seems he got his wish in that regard. AMO is voiced by Thu Tran, and Tran does a terrific job of capturing the same quirkiness and childlike nature that Niki Yang captures with BMO. While channeling that same energy, Tran manages to also give AMO a bit of an off-kilter feel to his voice, and really pulls off that equally threatening nature.

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While I truly admire the flashback sequence for just how fucked up and depressing it is – I mean, God damn, the show has never pulled off a death scene in this grim of an execution – my one criticism for the episode is that AMO’s impersonation of Moe can be a bit too silly and somewhat tasteless at times. I really don’t know what department to blame for this, as Wolfhard very clearly seems to repetitively jot down within the storyboard that the voiceover within this sequence is supposed to stay completely serious throughout its run. I dunno if it was a decision by the network to downplay the more somber implications of the sequence, but I think it really works against it by making AMO’s goofy inflections quite unfitting with the tone of the rest of the flashback. Granted, I still love everything else. AMO starts off said story by mentioning terrible truths that he discovered about himself, and I think it’s really neat that those discoveries are left completely unknown. It kind of makes AMO a much more sophisticated and less one-dimensional character to know that he has some sort of self-awareness about the troubles that lies inside his heart and within his programming. Perhaps he isn’t exactly cognizant of his own desires to repel any love that is given to him, but it is clear that he knows something about his uncanny nature that startles him to some degree, even if he doesn’t try to fix said issues. And even though his voiceover is distractingly out of place, the contents of said scene are still left as somber as possible. Even AMO’s small utterance of “he was dying…” is really effective. Going back to what I had mentioned earlier, this is somewhat shockingly ballsy for AT to cover, as deaths within the series are usually off-screen, retconned, or left to be humorous. Even using the words “dead” or “die” are typically substituted for “skronked up” or “murdle-urdled” or something more kid friendly of the sorts. But here, we’re treated to the actual, on-screen, (for the most part) serious death of a secondary character. It’s even more heart-wrenching to see that Moe did show some form of care and affection for AMO as he refers to him as his “dear child.” Even with AMO’s dysfunctions, Moe still loved all of his children dearly and equally, enough to trust AMO with his last possession. Though, AMO’s selfishness continues to shine through when he lets his own insecurities get in the way of what seems to be a genuine final moment between father and son.

Which leads into a final battle between brother and brother. Another gem from the storyboard that was cut is AMO’s master plan to get rid of everyone, until only one family remains and has no other choice but to love him. It was probably cut for time reasons, though I think the implication of said scene still remains. As AMO continuously fails to find a loving family, it seems apparent that he’ll continue to embark upon his pursuits, and willingly place himself in a neverending loop of failed attempts. That is, if he survived his battle with BMO, which ends just as violently as BMO pulls a Wile E. Coyote tactic and launches AMO off a cliff. Though it’s shown that AMO was built with a golden heart, just as his brother, his heart is left sad and and unresponsive, as those who only want love and cannot give it will never achieve true happiness.


This leaves BMO as a hero, but in possibly the worst possible place he’s ever been in. Not only has he just killed his brother of whom he recently met, but he’s left knowing that his father is dead and will never be coming back. This comes as a starling and upsetting revelation when BMO softly responds “no,” to Finn, who asks if he’s alright. BMO expected growing up to be full of challenges that that were beyond his grasp or control, and in some aspects, he was right. His solo mission brought about some of the most traumatizing events he could have ever experienced, and troubles that were clearly out of his control, as life seems to consistently offer. In addition to that, he’s also left with the sad knowledge that his entire “growing up” mission was a lie, and that he may not even have an attempt to grow up because of how Moe designed him to be, in a spectacularly beautiful sequence that features multi-colored BMO’s representing his inner thoughts. Though, BMO’s stress is not long lasting. As we already learned in Be More, to which this episode is keen to reuse footage of, BMO was built simply to “be more.” AMO was intended to be one specific thing upon his inception: a robot that can receive love, while BMO was built to be whatever he chose to be. There’s the intrinsic fear within anyone that their lives are predetermined by their birthright, or whatever uncontrollable conditions have been created within their lives, though there is always the existing truth that free will will always reign above everything. Though BMO is faced with the scary truth that he could theoretically end up like his brother, he’s reassured by the fact that he knows who he is and he knows he has the power to be anything he wishes to be. While BMO started out raving about how Moe was some sort of God-like person who could do or fix anything inside of him, BMO is now left with the knowledge that though he is unable to rely on Moe to help guide him through his life, he is able to trust in himself and the creativity that so powerfully defines him. Without changing himself or his lifestyle in any way possible, BMO was able to grow up a bit by realizing who he is and what he wants, and not transforming into an entirely different entity in the process. It showed him that, while growing up brings about some scary obstacles, the true bit of comforting bliss comes from knowing who you are and being able to trust in yourself to guide you forward.

It is not, however, an attempt to discredit the type of person Moe was or all that he did for BMO, as BMO still saves for one sorrowful goodbye to his creator during his hectic day. As BMO falls asleep, an unintentional Moe flashback is triggered as he leaves his son the same message, and a cute, tired BMO falls into a deep sleep of his own. You better believe this ending left me misty-eyed. It is also a curious spectacle to see within the flashback that Moe had some form of role in creating the Sleeping Fire Giants (which later comes into play in one of the Beginning of the End comics) as to show that he does have a role in helping build on society and technological advances in Ooo, aside from his own personal splendors. It adds a bit of remaining mystery to his character, as we say a tearful goodbye to his pleasant, grandpa-ish nature. It’s also equally sad watching it now, only months after Moe’s voice actor Chuck McCann passed away. Rest in peace to a legend.

But yeah, with all that I’ve written up for this one, you can easily see that this is one of my favorites. Adventure Time has attempted these types of compressed coming of age stories before with Lemonhope and Stakes, and while both of those examples had their strong points, no such story comes across as successful as The More You Moe, The Moe You Know. This one is so amazing in its story, visuals, dialogue, thematic elements, characters, tone, and so on, and I really cannot think of a better character to use for this type of story than BMO. He’s a character that can easily be pushed aside as mere comic relief, but he really embodies the child within every living person, and those childlike fears that plague even the oldest and wisest of people. The More You Moe, The Moe You Know uses this aspect of BMO’s character to its best ability, and tells a story that is just as heartbreaking and tragic as it is uplifting. Growing up is certainly scary, because there really is no guarantee that everything is going to be alright. While most of these stories would usually leave off their central hero reassured by the reality that nothing is as bad as it seems, BMO experiences some of the most horrifying truths of life in the process. But, it’s experiencing those truths that help him to realize one of the most important part aspects of life: knowing himself and feeling in control. And, as Adventure Time has proved time and time again, that just might be enough in even the toughest of times.


Favorite line: “I think I just killed someone”


“The Dark Cloud” Review

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Original Airdate: November 19, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

With the exception of Marceline’s arc, it’s interesting how The Dark Cloud ends being a story that is almost entirely distant from what the last batch of Stakes episodes aimed to accomplish. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing; it is refreshing to get a bit of a plot shift after so much of the focus in the last few episodes has been strictly on staking the various different vamps that face our heroes’ path. But does this one wrap up the Stakes miniseries in a satisfying way, and is it successful standing on its own? Well, let’s check ‘er out.

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First off, wasn’t really buying into Marcy’s ho-hum speech about how she ruined everything. Personally, I thought it was a little selfish that she goes on about how all of it was her own fault, and then decides to do nothing in the process. Her insecurity of making things worse feels real, but c’mon, if you’re going to go on spiel about how you directly caused a giant cloud monster to invade the Candy Kingdom and destroy all of your friends, you should at least lend a helping hand, chica. I’m also just kind of down on these moments in general, because we obviously know that Marceline is going turn her viewpoint around and help out in saving the day by the end. These bits are frustrating just because they don’t really add anything to the story or character overall. Marceline’s belief that she’s the cause of all of the problems currently occurring in Ooo doesn’t really help her to come to a big revelation or even an ongoing solution to that insecurity. Unless, of course, you count her connection with Simon.

Marcy and Ice King hanging out together and having a rational discussion was really nice. I’m not a big fan of Marcy’s song in this episode, but Ice King singing the final line and acknowledging that it was a tune that he actually taught Marceline was somewhat profound. I’m guessing it was something that Simon sang to Marceline during the Mushroom War, and a morsel of it was lodged deep within Ice King’s cranium. Such a sweet moment. It was also really cool to have Ice King talk about how he and Marceline are “survivors,” likely referencing that they have existed in Ooo practically longer than anyone, and that he believes that’s the destiny they were meant to fit for the rest of eternity. Of course, this somewhat ties back into the Vampire King’s method in the very last episode, where he ultimately decided to choose a new path for himself, as well as the world around him. Ice King’s speech partially reminds Marceline of that possibility: that she can watch the world fall to shreds for the umpteenth time in her lifespan, or that she can actively have a role in creating a new path for herself, and the people around her. Ice King also refers to her as a “cockroach,” pretty much implying that she’s a being who continues to get squashed over and over again, but never dies or gives up on her mission regardless. Again, it doesn’t really connect to her turmoil earlier in the episode, but it makes for a really nice interaction that hits home with the overarching theme of the past few episodes, as well as appropriately characterizing Marceline’s identity as a whole.

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Probably my favorite part from this episode was the usurping of King of Ooo. It’s so sad to see the demise of the lovable moneygrubbing jerk, but it provides for a pretty epic sequence featuring every citizen of the Candy Kingdom standing up to their so-called princess, as well as the return of Princess Crunchy, the unforgiving. Crunchy has really worked his way into my heart after the entirety of this miniseries.

A good portion of the episode does revolve around the people of the Candy Kingdom attempting to vanquish the cloud beast in general, and it’s mostly good fun. I actually think it’s a somewhat hilarious subversion of how the “everyone gangs up against one big bad” trope is used, and it fails miserably in every way possible. The cameos were pretty terrific; Flambo returns after an 112 episode absence to let Flame Princess and Cinnamon Bun know of the the dangers lurking in the Candy Kingdom, to which the two lend a helping hand, showing that they remain as allies to Princess Bubblegum. The Hot Dog knights also get a triumphant return, only to show that haven’t gotten anymore competent over the course of a couple years.

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But even with everything going against them, things changes when Marceline slides into battle (with a priceless delayed reaction from Jake) and really takes charge. While I think it’s well-animated and presented, I’m not really a huge fan of Marceline’s demon heart opening up and sucking in the essence of the cloud for a few different reasons. First off, this is like, the third or fourth Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequence in the series, so I think the presentation, while cool, is somewhat of an overly done concept by this point in time. Second, I’m not really sure I understand how Marceline is able to do this? I guess it ties into her soul-sucking abilities as a demon, and is a power she doesn’t really have the chance to channel very often, but it just came off as something that felt a lot more like a random deus ex machina than an actual fitting solution to the issue. And if Marceline had this ability all along, then why didn’t she just do it from the beginning?? I mean, I guess she couldn’t have known what results it would bring, and she was also being pouty, but regardless, it felt like a pretty silly conclusion to the battle.

This is strictly a personal preference, but I actually do like Marceline being converted back into a vampire. Yeah, I get that it seems like another desperate attempt to hang onto the status quo, but I felt that it was a sad, yet equally uplifting reminder of what this miniseries as a whole set out to accomplish: that everything stays, but it still changes. It’s a terrific representation of the series in general, and Marceline’s arc as a character. For the series, no matter how things are restricted to staying exactly the same, the characters and environments still grow and mature every-so-slightly with each passing episode. As with Marceline, a character who has been around for a thousand years, is still able to grow and evolve, despite being inclined to feeling like the same person she was 1,000 years ago. Even though she’s left with those feelings, she’s still growing, learning, and understanding. And even in her long-winded lifespan, it’s cool to see that it’s still very possible. Take Bubblegum as well, who goes back to ruling over the Candy Kingdom, but this time with a more relaxed and caring demeanor. Though her situation remains the same, she chooses to go about her role in a new light that will positively benefit herself and the sanctity of her kingdom.

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The last few scenes are nice, as Finn, Jake, and PB welcome Marcy back in her home. I’ve given Finn a lot of shit throughout this miniseries, but he does manage to provide my all-time favorite line from Stakes: “Are you, uh… Do you feel bad? I don’t want to say, like, ‘I’m sorry about who you are’ or anything if you’re feeling okay, but I don’t know how bad news all of this is… Right?” Such an eloquently put and mature sentiment from our little buddy. It really emphasizes Finn’s absolute desire to empathize with anyone he comes across, especially when it comes to his friends, and knowing exactly how to phrase things even when he’s struck with complete confusion. Finn understands that this form of apology is hollow and potentially inappropriate, so it’s sweet to get such an outward sentiment of how he truly feels, and how he truly cares about what Marceline is feeling. Marceline’s half-and-half reassurance is nice, as we’re left with the ambiguous notion that the Vampire King now lies within Marceline’s psyche. I don’t think this is ever going to be something that’s resolved or addressed in the finale (though it may surprise me), but it is interesting to assess the implications surrounding it. No matter how much pain the VK put Marcy through, she’ll always have a part of him within her (both figuratively and literally) and the reminder that she has her own destiny to shape. The episode caps off in a nice, heartfelt fashion, as Marceline strums on her guitar, the lion finds a new home, PB rebuilds her butler buddy, Toronto runs off with the Candy Kingdom’s entire stock of gold, and Stakes comes to a quiet conclusion.

This episode was certainly not the big ending to Stakes I was expecting, but it’s mostly nice. It takes a bit of a turn by focusing more on thematic elements, rather than story, which I think is both satisfying and unsatisfying, depending on how you look at it. It’s unsatisfying in a way that, to most, likely feels like not much was actually accomplished on Marceline’s side of things within the actual Stakes arc. Though, to me, it’s satisfying in a way that connects to what the miniseries has been trying to establish since the beginning, and this episode encapsulates that in a relatively successful way. Definitely has its pros and cons, but I left this one feeling mostly good about the closure that was offered.

And that’s Stakes, gang! I’m a bit burned out by discussing the miniseries in general, so I’m glad to be moving on to other episodes, but there will be one mega-review regarding my assessment on Stakes as a whole tomorrow, so stay tuned for that! Otherwise, I’ll be digging into The More You Moe, The Moe You Know on Sunday.

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Favorite line: That dope Finn quote I mentioned above.

“Vamps About” Review

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Original Airdate: November 17, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

Stakes really begins to pick up in story by the time Vamps About comes. This one really establishes the overarching dilemma of the miniseries, as well as introducing the main villains to our heroic crew. As far as establishing said plotline, this episode does a pretty solid job on that part, as well as having a ton of fun along the way.

The first few minutes of the episode are mostly spent with the vampires, as we’re provided with a solid concept regarding their personalities, abilities, and character traits. And man, do I love these guys. The vamps in general are probably my favorite part of the miniseries, as so much effort was clearly put into their designs, motivations, and individuality. Each vamp is charismatic and unique in their own way, and its nice how the presentation of these characters isn’t too exposition heavy either. We’re given brief glimpses into the perspectives of each vamp, but we don’t really fully get to know them until their own star episode. Thus each vamp leaves us with a bit of anticipation until they eventually strike later on. Especially The Moon, who remains entirely speechless and virtually unacknowledged during the entire convergence. Hella creepy. I have my own list of favorites and least favorites when it comes to the vampires, but I’ll get into that list during the Stakes mega-review. Aside from their individual characteristics, the vamps also have great chemistry between each other. Love all the slapstick-y moments involving Empress and the Vampire King’s treatment of The Fool, as well as the Vampire King threateningly holding Hierophant captive and shouting, “surely? Surely? SHIRLEY J. TEMPLE!” An obscure reference to say the least, but one that always gets me regardless. It’s also cool to see that the vamps are very different in their philosophies regarding how they should go about adapting to their new environment: Empress wants to rebuild an entirely new army of vamps, Hierophant wants to stick to the old-school vampire ways, The Moon’s motivations are unknown, The Fool just wants to fuck around and have a good time, and the Vampire King wants to turn over an entirely new leaf of existence.

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The next bit regroups our main heroes, and while it isn’t as fun or enjoyable as the time we spent with the vamps, we do get some quality moments. I love Marceline toying with Jake once more as she fake-out sucks his soul, and his version of giving Marcy a “ride” to PB’s house that involves growing a bigger, more human-like torso. Only Jake would come up with something so complicated. I know this isn’t a moment that a ton of people were into, but I liked Finn putting his arms around the girls as Marceline explains the vampire situation to Bonnie. A lot of people saw it as Finn being creepy and trying to cop a feel from his female companions, but I always saw it as an attempt for Finn to be involved and incorporated into the conversation, but gets a bit too into the gals’ personal space for their own liking. I never saw this moment as being especially malicious or creepy, and more naive than anything. The scene that did bother me was the 40 second long gag that involved Peppermint Butler drawing various interpretations of Jake’s description of the vamps, as Jake consistently responds with, “nah, that’s not right.” I remember being really bored and unamused the first time I watched this bit, and I’m equally as unfazed after a third or fourth time. Adventure Time has never fared with with overly-long jokes. It’s a series that banks itself off of quick-shot gags and overt absurdity, rather than toying with the patience of the audience and seeing how long a particular joke can be stretched out. I’d be fairly more forgiving if Peppermint Butler’s sketches were at least funny, but they’re pretty straightforward and unremarkable. This at least provided us with the sweet promo art that Steve Wolfhard drew up for the episode.

The flashback sequence featuring the final battle between Marceline and the Vampire King is visually impressive. The action is staged terrifically, Vampire King’s words are dramatic and foreboding, the shot is well-lit through the use of moonlight, and the biting scene in general is really intense and somewhat disturbing. Vampirism has shared a connection with rape culture in the media since pretty much the beginning of its existence, and I definitely get those uncomfortable feelings here. That’s not necessarily a complaint though, as I think it really adds to the absolute trauma that seems to have been inflicted on Marceline. Adventure Time has flew past the radar countless times, but I was actually somewhat surprised with how aggressive this biting sequence was able to play out.

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Another one of my favorite bits in this one is Peppermint Butler unleashing his large, collective supply of vampire slaying material. It was pretty obvious from the beginning of this miniseries that PB, Finn, and Jake would all still possess prominent roles despite the fact that Stakes revolves around Marceline, but it sure is nice to see Peppermint Butler in a secondary role as well, to the point where he does have an active role in the story. I love Pepbut’s explanation of how he kept this arsenal around just in case Marceline went berserk. The little man will really do anything to protect Princess Bubblegum, even if it means slaying her former best friend in the process.

It was kind of annoying to see the boys fumble around and be incompetent, just so that there is some kind of framing device in order for Marceline to be alone. Of course, there are tons of these moments during the miniseries, and this one isn’t as bothersome as some instances are. So I can forgive this moment for now, but it certainly isn’t the last time I’ll be making this complaint.

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Marceline’s confrontation with the Vampire King (and The Fool) is nicely executed, and it does kind of paint a picture of how morally wrong the King actually is in his new lifestyle. While Marceline is rightfully close-minded in not believing the vamp after he treated her in the past, it does kind of leave an impression that sorta makes you question vampirism in general. I mean, it seems fucked up that the vampires suck the blood from animals, but in general, we as humans kill and eat animals every single day. It’s an obvious point, but one I actually didn’t think about much from the inception, to which the Vampire King brings to light. While we’re on the subject of the King, I think he has a pretty neat design in general, but it bothers me to no end that he also has bird feet, similar to Urgence Evergreen. That was a really neat and unique feature to Evergreen’s design, and I feel as though Vampire King sharing this trait makes Evergreen seems less remarkable in the process. But that quibble aside, I do enjoy his various different animalistic attributes.

Marcy quickly staking The Fool was quite amusing, as the Vampire King slickly transports from area to area. Though the battle doesn’t last long, as Marcy is left with the impending dangers that face her good pal Simon within the Ice Kingdom. And we’re left with an exciting promise of an episode-to-episode battle with each vampire.

This one is mostly solid. It has a couple jokes and gags I’m not particularly into, but this is the episode in which I really started to get invested with this miniseries as a whole. It builds a lot of anticipation for what’s ahead, while providing for some satisfying entertainment in the process.

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Favorite line: “Smell my feet, Marceline! You won’t regret it.”

“Bonnie & Neddy” Review

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Original Airdate: November 2, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Bonnie & Neddy is no where near as big and epic as its season premiere predecessors. Though, that’s to be expected: after the satisfying conclusion of season six, this premiere didn’t have any big cliffhanger to work off of, but there were a few lingering plot threads remaining in season six that this episode carries forward. It’s a pretty decent introduction to King of Ooo’s new reign as princess, along with a cute and potentially complex backstory for Princess Bubblegum.

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I’ll dig into the meat of this one first: the backstory of Bonnie and Neddy. While not as captivating as Finn, Marceline, or even Jake’s past history, Bubblegum’s origin story is simple and sweet. After seeing that blob from Simon & Marcy, and for the five people that actually played through Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! in its entirety, (sorry, that was mean) it became pretty clear that PB was some kind of manifestation of said blob, and it’s cool to see how natural and uncomplicated her actual “birth” came about. It is interesting, however, that Bonnie and Neddy are the only two children of the Mother Gum that we ever see in the series. Of course, we eventually end up meeting PB’s “relatives”, but what happened to the other gum children that dropped from the Mother Gum? The Explore the Dungeon game explains (if we are considering it canon) that PB has been protecting the Mother Gum by herself for years, so why were others not spawn from the gum? Again, this is under the circumstances that a game is being considered canon to the story, but I also feel like there’s a missing link to the story regarding the other brothers and sisters that PB spent her time with. Nice to see that this is where her desire to build the Candy Kingdom came from, however.

Regardless, we’re treated to the sweet weirdo Neddy, who clearly seemed to suffer some trauma upon his birth. I think a good amount of backlash was directed at this episode for introducing Neddy so late into the series after never being mentioned prior to this moment, but it seems exactly like Princess Bubblegum to keep the identity of her brother in secrecy so absolutely no one would bother him. I have no problem buying into the fact that Bubblegum would periodically check up on Neddy off-screen. Neddy’s voice is shrill and unpleasant, though not necessarily at the expense of the viewer, at least in my eyes (or ears). Rather than coming off as irritating, Neddy’s cries were helpful elements to show the tragedy of his situation. I dunno, there was something really quite sad about the way he was presented; I think the fact that Neddy doesn’t speak adds a lot to his character, as we never truly know what he’s going through or why he’s terrified. He’s a character I feel sympathy primarily because of the fact that he never really had a choice of whether to be brave or not. Neddy was born into pain, and likely consistently afraid of reliving that pain because of it.

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Thus, I think the relationship between PB and Neddy is rather nicely presented. I like that Princess Bubblegum’s inability to change other people comes into play once again. Along with Lemongrab, PB doesn’t want to alter Neddy’s behavior and try to change him – she knows what he’s comfortable with and what makes him happy, and that’s all that truly matters to her. The message of “people get built different. We don’t need to figure it out, we just need to respect it,” is a genuinely good one to live by. Though, I do wonder if Bubblegum truly did all that she could for Neddy. I mean, was Neddy really a lost cause, destined to suck on a sappy tree branch for all of his eternity, or was his potential and ability to live out a quality lifestyles squandered by the fact that Bonnie never attempted to release him from said comfort zone? And was her decision somewhat selfish, considering that she used Neddy’s sap sucking abilities as a foundation for her kingdom to thrive off of? I don’t really lean especially hard on any end of the spectrum; I’m kind of all for the idea that people should be able to live comfortably and happily in their own little state of bliss, but I also question whether or not Princess Bubblegum actually tried to help conquer or alleviate Neddy’s fears and instead chose to leave them to be suppressed. It’s a consistent part of Bonnibel’s character to not directly try to “treat” the close people around her who are different, and interesting to consider when it comes to how orthodox her response to these issues are. Whether it was at the intention of the episode, it is interesting regardless.

The rest of Bonnie & Neddy is a bit clunky in some areas. I dunno if it was just weird getting back into the booth at the start of season seven, but some of Finn and Jake’s lines come off as especially wooden and stiff. I usually NEVER have this complaint about the two characters, so I don’t know if Jeremy Shada and John DiMaggio were just struggling with the dialogue that Herpich and Wolfhard provided for them, or if they just simply had been away from the characters for a while. Finn’s line, “he really blizzed up all the slizz,” sounds remarkably unenergetic for the typically hammy and over-the-top character. I also thought the humor in this one was a bit weak, and only really started to pick up during Wolfhard’s bits. I like Jake stretching out of his armor instead of just simply removing it, and the bird who gives Neddy an attitude is a gif I’ve been in search of for far to long. The King of Ooo is up to his typical douchebaggery, but he isn’t as funny or conniving as he was in previous episodes. His simple motivation of obtaining money in this one didn’t really make sense to me to begin with… what does KOO even need money for after being the head of an entire kingdom? I guess it contributes to his everlasting desire for greed and power, but it just came off as somewhat shallow and uninteresting for his character. Though he does provide for a relatively funny scene at the end.

So Bonnie & Neddy isn’t without its clunky moments, but it does provide a simple and charming backstory for one of AT‘s most complex characters that I can get behind for the most part. I think it does raise an interesting debate regarding PB’s treatment of Neddy, and one that has me personally conflicted even to this day. It’s a complex issue that’s masked behind a positive and well-intentioned message.

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Favorite line: “I just want consistency!”

“Graybles Allsorts” Review

Graybles Allsorts is a series of shorts that were aired sporadically from July to November of 2015. I never truly understood the origin of these shorts… were they commissioned by CN executives? Was this produced as an actual episode and was soon scrapped into a short series? Or was the AT crew themselves interested in producing a short series? Regardless, Graybles Allsorts came into existence for one reason or another, and it does stay true to its name by incorporating an overarching motif to be hinted at in each short. Today, I’m going to be looking at each minisode individually, and then conclude with a final consensus regarding my feelings on the short series as a whole. Considering that Graybles Allsorts possesses an actual production code, I’ll be judging it as if it were an actual episode as well.

All’s Well that Rats Swell

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Original Airdate: July 6, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

This one is a slightly amusing BMO episode. I love any effort the series makes towards BMO’s failure to understand social norms, and the beginning of All’s Well that Rats Swell is riddled with ’em. My favorites include BMO aggressively throwing water onto a flower and yelling “drink up” and their belief that plucking all of Finn’s facial hair out will retain Finn’s youth. I suppose that’s why Finn never ends up growing a beard at any point.

While this stuff is silly, All’s Well that Rats Swell is muddled by its latter half that is mostly filled with BMO shouting and murmuring nonsense. BMO’s one of the weirder and more random characters of the main cast, but when that randomness is featured as their sole trait, I think BMO’s charm fades a bit. This is certainly trademark Wolfhard humor, but his episodes are usually much, much funnier than what’s provided here. Wolfhard’s zaniness typically shines through when he’s faced with a good story at the helm, but I think the fact that this minisode is seriously lacking of a coherent story makes for equally incoherent humor. I mean, I know it doesn’t have a ton of time to develop, but the main gist of this one is that BMO finds a rat, tries to thumb wrestle it, loses, eventually wins, and is ecstatic about it. Nothing particularly funny about the premise itself, and its execution is notably weak as well.

Have You Seen the Muffin Mess?

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Original Airdate: August 3, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

In the spirit of the very first Graybles episode, Princess Bubblegum whips up another insanely complicated substitute for cooking that is a pure delight. Her need to make every simple task as complex as possible is especially hilarious when she’s faced with something as simple as baking muffins, right down to placing a microscopic recipe within the muffin nanite. I remember being absolutely shocked when Princess Bubblegum first lost her arm, but hilariously relieved as she easily makeshifts a new arm with the existing gum on her body. If only it was that easy for poor Finn.

I loved Finn’s sheer dedication to helping PB out even when he’s in an awful condition, and I grew legitimately stressed as his accessories began turning into muffins, which is pretty impressive considering that I knew in the back of my mind that nothing especially impactful would come from these shorts. The ending itself is pure Adventure Time absurdity, and while I didn’t find the monster muffin especially funny, he was silly enough to force a dumb smile on my face. Have You Seen the Muffin Mess? is a delightfully fun bout of fluff.

The Gift That Reaps Giving

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Original Airdate: November 1, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Polly Guo

The Gift That Reaps Giving is likely my favorite of all four shorts. Death is the most obscure star character within Graybles Allsorts, in what is the late Miguel Ferrer’s last performance as the character. It’s fun to watch a character like Death just simply go about his everyday life, and unlike the Cosmic Owl, his mundane nature doesn’t make him any less interesting. I like how Death’s trivial struggle of wanting to record a certain song for his girlfriend leads to extreme ends, such as him nearly killing a child; that was all levels of absurd darkness. It’s also cool to see that, even though Death is an agent of demise, he still has his limits and would be slightly embarrassed by the idea of killing someone who isn’t meant to die. It’s also funny how Finn and Jake unintentionally foil his plans, and instead of reprimanding them, he just tries to stay cool in the process. Death probably has some form of respect for the two boys, and doesn’t want them to know of his shameful deeds.

Death ends up victorious in the end, while surprising his girlfriend Life with a compatible disc format. The design for Life was wicked cool, and even though Hynden Walch is providing her usual inflections, Life’s voicing is made instantly more unique by her double-headed nature. Simply a cool short featuring one of AT‘s chillest side characters. This is also a series first for Polly Guo, who would later become a more consistent board artist from season seven onward.

Sow, Do You Like Them Apples?

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Original Airdate: October 1, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Geneva Hodgson

Definitely the worst of the four shorts. I was actually completely unsure of who Geneva Hodgson before writing up this post, so I googled her, and it turns out she’s one of the main storyboard artists on O.K.! Let’s Be Heroes. Good on her!

This short is limited to one main joke: Ice King and his hunger for food. It was kind of silly to see Ice King’s misled perspective on how food is acquire, but I thought his wrestling with the pig was much more awkward and clumsy than actually humorous, and it takes up almost a full minute of the short. It was nice to see Marceline and Ice King interacting again after so long, and it was also interesting to see Marceline actually do something relatively malicious when she sucks the red from the pig’s skin. I mean, I don’t really think the pig is hurt by it, but I’m also not really sure that Marceline is morally correct for doing so either. Regardless, it was a nice touch, and just reminded me of how much I had missed Marceline by this point in time. But, there’s plenty more of her down the line.

Aside from that aspect, there’s very little that stands out with this one, and it’s remarkably unfunny. There is a very brief “blink-and-you’ll-miss” moment when Ice King is looking through his telescope of Peppermint Butler dragging a body bag and a shovel. Classic Peppermint Butler.


Like any Graybles episode, Graybles Allsorts also comes with a hidden theme, that being the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. All’s Well That Rats Swell represents war with BMO’s thumb war between the rat, Have You Seen the Muffin Mess? features Finn’s illness representing pestilence, The Gift That Reaps Giving very obviously stars Death, and Sow, Do You Like Them Apples? revolves around Ice King’s famine. Definitely didn’t know this one when I watched these shorts, nor would I have even guessed it afterwards. It’s really cool how these motifs continue to become more obscure and less clear as time goes on. I also like how the shorts quietly transition from morning, into day, into evening, into night. But as it is, Graybles Allsorts is pretty run-of-the-mill. It’s just like any other Graybles episode, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t really stand out in any which way. They’re simplistic and harmless shorts that provide for some light fun, but nothing really more than that, as most Graybles episodes do play out.

Best to Worst

  1. The Gift That Reaps On Giving
  2. Have You Seen the Muffin Mess?
  3. All’s Well That Rats Swell
  4. Sow, Do You Like Them Apples?

Favorite line: “I hope muffins aren’t easy to make or I’m being an idiot.” (Have You Seen the Muffin Mess?)

“Hot Diggity Doom” Review

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Original Airdate: June 5, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

A few tears were shed from myself after watching this year’s San Diego Comic-Con Panel (which you can watch online here).  A lot of beautiful words were said from the cast and crew who really hit the nail on the head about why the series is so terrific in general: it’s a big, exciting fantasy world filled with truly earnest and passionate characters. With that being said, it’s fitting to rewatch an episode like Hot Diggity Doom, which is primarily set-up for the next episode The Comet, but is also filled with some really nice character moments from Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum respectively. Granted, I don’t think it’s particularly strong in its story, but it makes up for it with a decent amount of funny moments and plenty of nice character moments, mainly from Princess Bubblegum herself.

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An election in Ooo is something I’ve wanted since the very beginning of the series. Granted, I think it totally seemed like a contrived idea in my head, and it still seems like one in this episode, but it plays with this idea to a great extent. It’s equally fitting that the election stars the King of Ooo, as the conflict between PB and himself continues to build. It’s appropriate that Steve Wolfhard boarded the first half of this episode, as KOO is a personal favorite of his, and you can almost see Wolfhard’s excitement while writing for the character. KOO is, as always, a charismatic and likable douchebag. I think he borders on being a tad bit annoying when he actually does pick up a more prominent role in following episodes, but he’s used quite fittingly as an foil for PB and as a charming manipulator of the ignorant Candy People. Though, one aspect that bothered me was how cool Sweet P. suddenly is with being around the King of Ooo. Wouldn’t he still be slightly traumatized by his behavior after threatening to burn down his house? I kind of would have liked this better if King of Ooo was forcing Sweet P. to seem like he didn’t care, but the fact that he really didn’t care was weird in presentation.

The idea of having a princess “election” in Ooo is a very silly and unique concept, but I’m always somewhat curious about just how much this holds as factual from what has already been established. I mean, we’ve seen kings and queens throughout the course of the series: Flame King, King Huge, Lumpy Space King and Queen (though, to be fair, they aren’t citizens of Ooo), Marceline, Xergiok, etc. All of these beings are portrayed as the rulers of their kingdom, even with princes and princesses roaming about. Is there something decreed regarding a certain part of Ooo where princesses like PB, Slime Princess, Hot Dog Princess, and so on are elected officials of their kingdom? Ooo politics are certainly confusing as fuck, and I feel like this added layer only adds to that confusion. It still is a funny and enjoyable concept in execution, it’s just kind of hard to piece together these bits of world building when it comes to the nature of hierarchies in Ooo.


Most of the fun from this episode derives from PB’s reaction to the whole debacle. Hynden Walch’s acting here is really on point, giving PB just the right amount of snark, and also sincerity in her deliveries. The tone surrounding her behavior is also fitting, seeing as how it starts out quite amusing when Bubblegum does flip her lid, but soon turns melancholic once she realizes her people have effectively turned against her, all while she was working on protecting them from possible disaster. With all that has been building up between the Candy People and PB’s shady behavior, it does feel fitting that the citizens would make a decision this drastic, even while keeping the prophetic dream sequence from Hoots in mind. There’s even a couple legitimate points made, such as James’ mom’s explanation (in a humorously boarded sequence by Wolfhard) of how PB told her son to basically get the fuck out of the kingdom, even if it was warranted. Though I guess that’s actually another problem I have with the way PB’s demotion is presented. I think the entire reason she’s voted out is simply shown as an example of how easy the Candy People are persuaded into swooning over a charismatic stranger, rather than the fact that PB has recently exuded some unorthodox behavior. I would have liked if the episode was a bit more challenging in how it tied back to some of PB’s questionable acts, rather than mentioning a few trivial things that don’t have a ton to do with what the past two seasons have been trying so hard to emphasize. I think a good amount of PB’s own angst regarding the situation is touched on in a meaningful way later on, but it doesn’t feel like her actions truly had a direct impact on her fall as a leader, which would have been a lot more of an intriguing demotion in my opinion.

There’s a ton of great PB moments that follow, however. Her bidding Finn and Jake goodbye was really sweet; even with her pettiness shown in the past, PB still wants Finn and Jake to remain loyal to the King of Ooo and to protect the kingdom. It shows how much PB does care for the kingdom that she was so mercilessly kicked out of, and still wants to see all of the hard work she put into it to remain intact. While we’re on the subject of loyalty, I think it’s really awesome that Peppermint Butler is the one person who remained absolutely true and by Bubblegum’s side throughout the whole endeavor. This was something already touched on in Nemesis, but I can’t express how cool it is that this super complex master of the dark arts is a totally loyal and perfectly self-aware guy who does everything out of loyalty for another being. It’s why I love his character so much: he’s the perfect embodiment of dark and light. I really dig a lot of the quieter moments when the two arrive at Uncle Gumbald’s cabin. Of course, it’s unique to get this kind of name drop of Uncle Gumbald at all. He was previously mentioned in Susan Strong, and the way PB talks about him in this episode, along with the way her sentence is framed, implies that there’s definitely something worth exploring in that category. Though, there’s quite some time before that exploration.

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The rest of the episode is mostly fun shenanigans with Finn and Jake and the Candy People. I like Finn’s really relaxed and natural reaction to the comet approaching, and on the opposite side of things, the exceptionally terrified behavior of the Candy citizens. It’s always fun watching the Candy People in a state of panic, and there are some notably fun bits here, like the Banana Guard trying to throw his spear at the comet, or the trash can smash backfiring and hitting Starchy.

The eventual battle between the mysterious campaign manager and Finn and Jake is decently staged, though for myself, I thought it was pretty obviously going to be Gunter. Maybe it was because I had already seen the TV Guide summary for The Comet, but I knew that Orgalorg had to be incorporated in here somewhere, so the reveal never came off as shocking. The reaction from Finn is amusing, as Herpich provides some rather goofy but still arguably funny bits of dialogue to work with (“what the bing bong, ping pong?!”). This all builds to the inevitable cliffhanger, as PB’s rocket, along with Finn, Jake, and Gunther, head into space to converge with the comet.

Hot Diggity Doom is decent set-up that’s filled with some laughs and funny moments, and the occasional lull. I think some of the problems I listed above could have made the episode a bit stronger if they were addressed, but when taking it for what it is, I still do enjoy this one. I actually do like a lot of those quieter moments I mentioned earlier. The scenes that feature PB and Peppermint Butler in or by the cabin are really nice and calmly executed. And, as I mentioned, Finn and Jake make for a lot of fun in their own sequences after being absent for three straight episodes. It’s a mostly solid entry that provides for plenty of anticipation regarding the true season six finale.

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Favorite line: “I don’t know what a dillweed is.”

“Graybles 1000+” Review

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Original Airdate: May 7, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

Out of the experimental projects Adventure Time has focused on over the years, the Graybles episodes are likely the least memorable. That’s not to say that they’re completely awful; the Graybles episodes are an assortment of inoffensive and often relatively humorous short stories, but typically nothing more than that. Between the acclaimed Fionna & Cake series and the visually unique guest animated episodes, it’s no wonder that the Graybles entries are generally sidelined. However, Graybles 1000+ manages to be an absolutely memorable gem by staying true to its source material while also expanding on the various interesting ways these stories can be told and the Adventure Time world as a whole.

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Continuing in season six’s tradition of focusing on the many different inhabitants of the Land of Ooo and beyond, this one focuses almost entirely on the life of Cuber, and once again, the show manages to make me care about a character I didn’t really think twice about before. Emo Phillips reprises his role as Cuber, who not only has one of the most distinct voices in the entire series, but also manages to capture the sense that Cuber is not from the present timeline to a tee. Cuber’s backstory as a baby – or in this case, a bayble – is not inherently really interesting, but is one that I grow affectionate for as the episode goes on.  It’s really awesome to me that Cuber’s connection and investment in Graybles go beyond just his role as an obscure television host. This episode presents Graybles as Cuber’s method of coping with his issues and his guide to getting himself out of trouble. As the beginning of the episode and a majority of the episode shows, Cuber seems to be a being stricken by constant paranoia, and Graybles are what help to propel him forward. It’s kind of neat that Graybles were given a purpose aside from just their initial intent, and even cooler that they represent the hierarchy of needs (despite Cuber’s directions to the audience to NOT look for a theme) and help Cuber to acquire his own set of necessities. Starting first with his physiologic needs.

I’ll talk about the actual Graybles in a bit, but I wanna get to the real meat first: the futuristic version of Ooo. We’ve had plenty of episodes that have dealt with the AT world’s past history, like Simon & MarcyThe Vault, and Evergreen, but this is the first episode to strictly focus on the future of said world, after getting some visual hints sprinkled around in Lemonhope – Part 2. This one was solo-boarded by Steve Wolfhard, and is his first solo-board to date, and boy, does he love including these little lore-based Easter eggs as much as possible. Wolfhard once stated,

“A fav part of working on AT is writing stuff like Martin’s speech in The Visitor, knowing what we throw will be caught later by the writers… I love that stuff. Feels like playing catch.”

This episode is very much in the same vein, with little hints of information and nothing explicit. But while an episode like The Visitor had questions that still demanded answers, the inquiries brought up by Graybles 1000+ don’t really demand as such. I mean, of course, there’s obvious bits that do require more information, like the appearance of the Ice Thing and what he actually embodies, though the rest of the episode comprises of small hints of information that are unsatisfying in all the right ways. For example, we hear a banjo strumming within Marceline’s still standing house, which could imply that Marceline is still living there, or it could mean that somebody else has moved in entirely. There’s also the Prizeball Guardian (who has a pretty incredible design, by the way) and the secluded living room within its interior, though no actual resident is seen. Again, this could imply that Bubblegum is still alive and has taken refuge inside her own safe haven, but again, these are questions that I think are best left up to interpretations of the audience. I’m sure some of these will ultimately get answered when the finale finally does air 12 years from now, but I’d hope that a couple of these hints are left mysterious. I even like the little implication that the interrupted wedding may involve descendants of Jake’s family, as they look somewhat similar in design to a character like Kim Kil Whan, and also speak in Korean.

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This episode is really dull and uncolorful in its scenery, but in a way that I think is fitting and ultimately tragic. It’s really unforgiving in how much it emphasizes the fact that nothing in Ooo that we know and love will last forever. Hell, Cuber even flat out says that Jake is dead when he states, “bobble bobble, as the dead might say,” which is obvious considering it takes place one thousand years in the future, but holy shit is it bleak to think about our main characters dying at all. Graybles 1000+ is depressingly honest in all the right ways, and shows how finite the world as a whole is. It’s easy to think everything is forever, but as this episode shows, even vivid fantasies don’t last. The lack of color really adds to how much has changed within the Candy Kingdom and beyond, and the lifeless, grown tree is pretty heartbreaking considering how fun and vibrant the Tree Fort is as a location in general. A lot of people consider the ending of Lemonhope – Part 2 to be the really depressing futuristic version of Ooo, but I think this episode takes it one step beyond and really hammers in the tragedy of it all, considering that it’s all featured subtley in the background. To me, that’s the brilliance of it all. You have Cuber, who simply wants to get himself out of trouble and could care less about the people and lands that occupied his surroundings, and so we, the audience, are left to respond to his surroundings for him. It’s all really nicely tied together, which is again, mostly thanks to Wolfhard’s tremendous focus on small details.

I’ll chat briefly about each Grayble now. Finn, Jake, and BMO’s little shtick is nothing particularly spectacular, though it’s cute and fun as always. This Grayble is representative of safety, which is nice to see, because I feel like Finn actually using the wand would totally be the story of a first or second season episode, while he’s grown to recognize the dangers of such an item, and would prefer to keep it out of harm’s way instead. There’s actually three really interesting bits in the storyboard that ultimately didn’t make it into the episode:

  • Finn asks Jake is he’s ever imagined the two of them as girls, which is pretty obviously an allusion to Fionna and Cake.
  • Jake states, “lately I’ve been thinking about whoever your mom is, I have a lot of questions for her!” Kinda glad this one didn’t make the cut, because there’s already so much going on in this one as it is, but it’s still cool regardless to get a mention of Finn’s mother after the events of The Visitor. I have a feeling Finn did inform Jake of the story Martin told him.
  • BMO mentions, “I think a lot about the Lich!” Pretty dark for the little dude.

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Onto Ice King’s, where it’s pretty much the same in tone as the first Grayble: it’s cute and fun, but nothing great. I don’t say this to demean the episode in any way, however. As I mentioned, I think it was really clever for Cuber to use these cute little stories as a method to help him cope with the world around him. Even if that means fixing his own broken leg, which still makes me squick to this day. Ice King’s Grayble very clearly represents social belonging, when he mentions that he loves Gunther.

Starchy’s is easily the funniest and most intriguing, as he discovers a chip in his tooth that is used by Princess Bubblegum to detect his every movement. I didn’t really like this at first, because I felt as though it was taking a step backward in PB’s developmental path, but at the same time, we don’t really know when the Grayble takes place. PB’s wearing her “I ♥ Bunny” t-shirt, which could imply that this took place during Jake the Brick, thus before the events of The Cooler. Regardless, it’s fun to see the ever-paranoid Starchy flee the Candy Kingdom, and the idea that the remainder of the series probably features a clone of Starchy and not the initial one we see in this episode. I’d love to see an episode elaborate on where the first Starchy fled off to. Also, it’s once again pretty cool to see a new lard species, with this one being a Grass Lard. I’d love to see a Pokemon Go! rip-off featuring the entire lard species. Starchy’s Grayble represents esteem, as he mentions that walking gives him self-esteem (which actually doubles as a good message to the kiddies about the importance of exercise to benefit overall psychological health).

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The final Grayble is cute, with Tuber teaching Cuber a lesson in self-actualization (the final part of the triangle!) as he realizes that he is able to protect himself, with some much needed help from his Graybles. I guess the one thing I sort of feel weird about with this one is that Cuber pretty much straight up killed someone at the beginning, but he’s still kind of viewed as a hero in the end. I mean, granted, it was an accident and he didn’t really get a chance to explain his behavior, but I do think it’s weird that it’s kind of glanced over by the time we get to the end of the episode. It didn’t really affect my overall investment in his character, though.

Regardless, I think Graybles 1000+ is pretty awesome. Not only is it an awesomely tragic view of the futuristic Ooo, but it also adds so much depth to Cuber and the Graybles in general. It’s also just some really high stakes fun as well. I think Cuber’s situation is legitimately enticing, and it’s kept that way through a fast-paced tour among the post-post-post apocalyptic civilization. This is one that I definitely think deserves more recognition, as it manages to be really intriguing, mainly because of its subtle Wolfhardian details, but also because it builds on the AT world in so many different ways. Graybles 1000+ is another strong, lore-based episode in season six, and the best Graybles episode to date.

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Favorite line: “You try not to think of a sandwich, and look what happens! A sandwich!”


“The Visitor” Review

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Original Airdate: February 5, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

A lot of people were disappointed by The Visitor, either because it wasn’t raw and emotional enough (this was aired side-by-side with Steven Universe‘s On the Run after all, which was a terrific episode) or because many felt we didn’t learn anything particularly new about Martin. While it’s true that Martin is pretty much still just an irredeemable asshole, it does at least show how much Finn’s attitude towards him has changed over time. Finn no longer simply wants to force his dad to be in his life, nor does he want to extract revenge, but Finn still seems, at the very least, confused. He still doesn’t completely understand why Martin is such an utter piece of shit and why his father abandoned him, and Finn doesn’t have any idea about the truth behind his origins. This episode answers some of those questions… with mostly unsatisfying answers… but I’ll defend The Visitor in that I think it’s a very intriguing interactive episode between Finn and his father.

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The episode begins with another dream sequence to add to Adventure Time‘s absolute dream fetish quota. As usual, the sequence is pretty stellar and trippy, with allusions to Finn’s childhood self and the nature of his being. The sperm-y comet in his dream directly leads him on a path to Martin, as Finn carries his buff baby self. As the baby clings onto Finn and asks him to hold tighter, Finn responds, “it’s okay, I won’t ever let you go.” I saw this both as an allusion to Finn never giving up his childlike innocence, and also his failure to let go of his past history as a baby. Finn is still deeply affected by the fact that he was abandoned as a child, and he simply wants to know what the reason is behind that abandonment. It takes a long bit of time for him to truly move on from this aspect of his life. He acknowledges his statement in his mind by thinking, “that’s true.”

When finally confronted with his father once again, Martin seems as scummy and conniving as he did in Escape From the Citadel. The first shot we actually see of him depicts Martin eating the contents of a baby bird’s egg, and promptly spits the feathers out of his mouth once Finn enters the tree. Isn’t he just delightful? Martin also once again tries to divert Finn’s attention away from himself, though he fails entirely, and Finn figures his scheme out. The one difference between Martin’s original appearance and his role here is that he isn’t trying to get away from Finn with every chance that he gets… though he does try to at some points. Here, I think Martin is at least trying to bond with Finn, but he’s doing it entirely for himself, and not for Finn’s well-being. He wants to make himself believe he’s putting in the work of being a caring father, but doesn’t actually seem to care if he is one or not. And again, it seems as though he’s trying to find as many distractions as he possibly can; after crash landing on Earth, he immediately wants to return to space once more, because nothing beneficial is around for him on Earth. Or at least, that’s what he thinks.

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During this meeting, Finn isn’t entirely angry or furious with his father. He had gotten over the fact that Martin was the reason he lost his arm initially, and knows that revenge won’t bring him any form of satisfaction. Though, this doesn’t stop his general disgust from showing as Martin tries to hug him after tricking Finn into thinking he too lost a limb. Finn is rationally upset because he feels as though he can’t trust Martin for anything, and he’s only more-so disappointed by the fact that Martin assures him that he’ll never be able to tell the difference. One of the cleverest bits of Martin’s character is that you can never tell if he’s being sincere, or completely lying. Stephen Root’s work with Martin is great, because every line comes off as genuinely charming and affectionate, even is he’s being a complete asswipe. It’s an effect that not only works on the characters in this universe, but on the audience as well.

The villagers that Martin and Finn come across are pretty charming; their designs are super simplified, but their nature and character traits are actually somewhat profound. I kind of love that they’re smart enough to know that they’re being tricked, though they want to help out as much as they can just because they’re simple nature has allowed for them to become altruists. It’s pretty cool to see citizens of an area in Ooo who aren’t blatantly stupid or irrational, and some who are actually quite bright and humble in contrast. Fun fact: almost all of the guy villagers are voiced by Tom Herpich, and almost all of the girl villagers are voiced by Tress MacNeille.

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Most of the episode revolves around Martin manipulating the villagers into doing deeds for him, and while it’s relatively one-note, it’s all pretty funny to watch. I love seeing Finn’s absolute dead-pan reactions to all of Martin’s endeavors. The best part of it all is easily the party he throws for the villagers, in what is supposed to be a happy celebration, though everyone in sight looks like they’re either in pain, or absolutely miserable. Really paints Martin to be like an absolute monster, as it should. Even when he’s trying to do something for others, he still always selfishly puts himself first.

Though at the party, he does set aside time for his son, as Finn begins to grow introspective and wants to know some details about his past. Martin initially bats around the questions aimed towards him, though quickly grows to being genuine when he does acknowledge how much it means to Finn. This is probably Martin at his most sincere, and likely the most sincere I’d ever want to see him. Though as he proves, he can’t even really conquer sincerity the right way, as he just vaguely glances over key details in the story of Finn’s early days. It does add a bit of depth to Martin’s character, as he acknowledges that talking about Finn’s mother “stresses him out.” Again, not much is given when it comes to the concept of Finn’s mother, though we can at least gather that Martin did truly care about her at one point, and it’s a touchy subject for himself. It can be concluded that he’s the type of dude who has grown to eliminate anything even remotely stressful from his life, simply because, after all the traumatic things he’s been through, he doesn’t want to experience anything quite as emotionally taxing again. He does pull off the gist of Finn’s story quite nicely, and ends with, “I always planned to come back for you, but I didn’t.” Martin acknowledges this statement by mirroring Finn’s line earlier, “that’s true.” It’s a small, but huge moment that shows that, while Martin is a polar opposite in comparison to his son, the two do share at least one aspect of sincerity. Of course, Finn’s statement was about never letting himself go, while Martin’s statement related to actually letting Finn go, but it’s the one moment where Martin is completely and utterly honest with his son, and while it doesn’t lead to any actual development in Martin’s character, (which I wouldn’t want to see anyway) it does at least offer us a single scene in the grand scheme of things where the two characters are able to be somewhat real with each other.

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This doesn’t last very long, as Martin plans to leave on his ship (christened as the “Minnie”!) after leaving the entire village in absolute despair. He attempts to ditch Finn without even saying goodbye too, but also in a rare moment for himself, he invites Finn to come along with him in space. Granted, I don’t think this invitation is met with the same sincerity that his previous interaction was; I think Martin simply wants to use Finn as an ally and then to ditch Finn when he is no longer of use to himself. Finn is smart enough to now to know this truth, and instead of joining Martin in an attempt to either get closure or to bond with his father, he chooses the path that he knows and one that has benefited him in his toughest times: being a hero. And it also means sending his father directly into space, as far away from Finn as possible. Finn no longer feels like he needs Martin’s validation or love to move on with his life; Finn has a handful of other emotional support options to fall back on, and he realizes that his dad is genuinely a bad person. It certainly doesn’t make Finn whole completely, but he’s continuing to develop on himself by choosing to eliminate negative influences from his life, rather than to bounce back on them. In the end, he reigns a hero once more, but is confused about the lack of an actual comet that appeared in his dream. Little does Finn know, the actual convergence of a catalyst comet approaches shortly.

The Visitor is a good combination of funny and sad moments, with most of its poignancy reflecting just how awful Martin is to Finn and that Finn is still primarily deeply confused. It does end happy, however, with a positive step forward in Finn’s life path, and one that continues to increase his affirmation for life in general. Granted, I can see how a lot of people were disappointed with the lack of actual answers we got with Finn’s backstory, though I think I’m more so satisfied knowing that those answers are confirmed later on in the series. As is, The Visitor is an entertaining entry that focuses on the differences between Martin and Finn, yet cleverly also touches on their few similarities.

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Favorite line: “Everything is ruined. Everyone is fat.”