Original Airdate: February 14, 2011
Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto
Finn’s crush on PB is certainly endearing, but it isn’t one of the stronger points of the series. It is a crucial part of the first few seasons and it does lead to terrific tension and development as the series progresses, but the concept of the “younger boy liking an older girl” or unrequited love in general is very common in most animated series like Gravity Falls or Foster’s Home, heck, even live action shows use this trope. That’s not to say the show uses them badly, but it’s just sort of treads similar waters. The aspect that makes it a bit more interesting is that it brings out one of Finn’s major character flaws: his social awkwardness and willingness to risk anything for Bubblegum.
I’m also not one to insinuate that a character flaw is necessarily a bad thing; it can be, but in a majority of situations, it makes the main protagonist appear more interesting. Having a character that is flawed and imperfect helps the audience to better identify with the characters and its world, and using a pre-pubescent Finn’s crush on PB is a perfect example of that. It’s easy to empathize with Finn’s deep feelings of infatuation for Bubblegum and pinpoint it as a developmentally appropriate stage of life.
That being said, Finn’s desire to become smarter to impress the princess is very enjoyable and almost works as a trip through memory lane for anyone who is Finn’s age or remembers being an awkward and quirky preteen. We’re treated to some delightfully silly gags along the way: the school of worms, Finn and Jake studying while making a beat out of their blinking, Jake shrinking down small but still drawing a face on his finger, and the return of Choose Goose! Hearing Jeff Bennett’s Hanna Barbera-esque voice as CG is always a treat, and never fails to make me laugh.
Speaking of voice acting, Jeremy Shada gives a terrific performance of Finn in this episode. He hilariously pulls off the “mad with power” inflections and overtones, and really puts everything into making his character feel as authentic as possible. It shows how great Shada is as a voice actor, and just how well he is able to follow Finn’s progressions of age and altercations. My only complaint is that we don’t get to spend more time with “smart” Finn. Finn doesn’t actually put the glasses on till about 7 minutes in, so it feels like we don’t get to enjoy his presence nearly enough. The scene with the class of worms was humorous, but it could’ve easily been substituted for some more crazy Finn.
This episode also marks the end to one of the most recurring possessions thus far: Finn’s golden sword (a.k.a. Scarlett). Scarlett is one of the most identifiable objects in the entire series, and pretty much any promo you’ll ever see for the show has Finn wielding his golden sword. It’s only appropriate that the sword is sacrificed in this episode, however. This is the beginning of Finn’s upcoming entrance into his teenager years, and signifies the end of an era for himself. The sacrifice also showcases the honesty and truth behind Finn’s feelings for PB: he’s willing to give up one of his most prized possessions for her love. Of course, it was unintentional, but hey, smart Finn had it planned all along! Soon he will be entering more dangerous and difficult challenges, as well as further awkwardness between himself and Bubblegum.