Tag Archive | Tom Herpich

“Too Old” Review

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Original Airdate: August 12, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

After the preview came out for Too Old following the release of Frost & Fire, the entire fandom was in somewhat of a tizzy. People were really, really pissed at Finn (the comments on this particular YouTube video are a trip down memory lane) and it didn’t help that his behavior in this one was considerably more offensive than the last episode. While Finn’s manipulative behavior was generally based off of ignorance and hormonal urges, this episode features him being purposely lying and deceitful, downright creepy, and virtually pathetic and useless in his environment. That being said, I initially hated this one. I couldn’t believe the way Finn’s character was bastardized, and it doesn’t help that the episode is a bit of an ear sore as well. The Lemongrabs are constantly shrieking throughout the entirety of this one, and while it’s helped the characters really make a unique identity in the past, it’s just downright unpleasant in this one. Yet, time has been good to Too Old. What I initially thought was an irritating expedition through Castle Lemongrab with some really unlikable moments with Finn, I now believe is a really intriguing cautionary tale of trying to relive the past. And with tons of little details sprinkled throughout the episode’s run, I actually think it’s a pretty brilliant allegory.

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Too Old mimics Too Young to a tee. Aside from its title, the episode uses the basic structure of Too Young’s individual moments to carry the plot and its motif along smoothly. Even the title card music is the exact same jingle that was heard during Too Young’s title sequence. Yet, this isn’t a sequel episode. A sequel, by definition is “a published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one.” Too Young, in contrast, was a mostly bright and colorful tale with silly jokes that revolved around the bittersweet relationship between Finn and PB. Too Old, however, focuses not on a bright and colorful story, or the sweeter elements between Finn and PB, but a dark and twisted tale of a creation gone corrupt and Finn at his absolute lowest. Let’s start with Lemongrab.

Lemongrab has certainly come a long way since his first appearance. Initially an ineffectual and goofy tyrant, Lemongrab has gone from having absolutely nothing to having practically everything that the Candy Kingdom possesses. Lemongrab has a proper kingdom with citizens, the company of a brother, and enough food to make for an absurdly overweight lemon. The one thing that Lemongrab didn’t consider when building his kingdom, however, was building a kingdom based out of love and care for his people. Lemongrab simply decided to create for the sake of creation. Fascinated with his own ability to make citizens, he continued to do so and caused his kingdom to become overpopulated. Now he simply has a plethora of candy citizens who he doesn’t even love or care about; he simply was interested in their creation, and by the time the next lemon person came along, he was already disinterested in the last. On top of that, his brother, who was once built to be his equal, was quickly distorted into his oppressor. The fatal flaw in the creation of Lemongrab 2 was believing that a second Lemongrab would help to round out the first. Yet, what PB didn’t realize, was that Lemongrab only believes in himself. If someone’s methods don’t line up exactly with his, they’re automatically deemed as oppressors of his beliefs and tactics. And, though the two Lemongrabs were built exactly the same, the first Lemongrab has much more life experience than the first. The first Lemongrab has been hardened by society and has grown to be bigoted against anything that goes beyond his own way, as he was virtually born into this world alone. Lemongrab 2 was never built to be alone; Lemongrab 2 always had his brother since the moment he was conceived, and doesn’t possess the selfishness and ego that his brother has developed.

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What this all boils down to, basically, is that Lemongrab believes he is finally greater (or at least up-to-par) with his creator. Having an array of servants, citizens, and entertainers, he finally feels like royalty. And this really shows during Lemongrab’s royal dinner. As PB and Finn arrive, a Lemon Person announces the arrival of the two, followed by a Lemon Person abruptly falling from a trapeze, alluding to Cinnamon Bun doing the same thing in Too Young. What seems like a brief, cute reference to the past episode is actually a pretty in depth look into Lemongrab’s psyche. This introduction of PB and Finn, as well as the trapeze act, is how Lemongrab believes people are supposed to be greeted in a sophisticated, upstanding kingdom. Cinnamon Bun’s entrance, was of course, based on his own bumbling stupidity, rather than an actual elaborate performance. This view of ignorance on how a kingdom is supposed to be run is ultimately what leads Lemongrab into absolute fascism.

Say what you want about PB’s own policies and treatment of her people, yet she puts her heart, blood, sweat, and tears into caring and loving for her people and giving them a serviceable living experience. Lemongrab, on the other hand, only cares about himself and his own way of living. He could care less about the other Lemon People and their own quality of life; he simply wants to create a luxurious living community for himself as a status of his importance. The only person he has an ounce of care for, aside from himself, is Princess Bubblegum, though this care is often combatted with hostility. I don’t believe for a second that Lemongrab invited PB over for her to see how much the kingdom has improved, but rather to one-up her and to show that he is now more dominant than his creator.

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Yet, Lemongrab’s kingdom is based on a single ruler’s mindset, rather than the success and individuality of others. Whether the Candy Kingdom contains truly unique and inspired Candy People or not, they do have their own sense of individualism and their own distinct mindsets. This is why, when we’re introduced to Badlemonnohope (nicknamed Lemonhope), his identity and mindset offer a much higher sense of individuality and character than anyone else in the Earldom. He chooses his own path and interests, which is why Lemongrab has deemed him as obsolete among the crowd of lemon people that surround him. The reason I’m explaining all of this in great detail is particularly because I think Lemongrab’s descent into pure tyranny is actually quite well-rounded. It derives from systematic inadequacy and a sense of inferiority toward his creator. Lemongrab simply believes that emulating a fictitious utopian society based on what he has seen can create a bustling and admirable community, though all of what he thinks makes up a thriving kingdom is a mere facsimile of the Candy Kingdom. And his insistence that PB was behind all of this, that she is at fault for his shortcomings, is simply an excuse at this point. While some of PB’s errors and flaws could be attributed to Lemongrab’s suffering in You Made Me, at this point, Lemongrab uses his creator as a mere scapegoat for his own flaws, marking a full transformation into villainy as opposed to a sympathetic anti-hero. Once again, his selfishness comes out when addressing PB by his balcony, “You try to steal my Lemonhope away?!” His possessiveness towards Lemonhope shows that Lemongrab merely thinks of him as property; a token to add to the completeness of his kingdom. And, despite all of Lemongrab’s monstrous actions, an almost completely devoured Lemongrab 2 professes his life experiences and what he’s learned through his encounters with his devious brother: that lemons should not squeeze other lemons to get by, but allow lemons to grow and flourish. A silly analogy, but one that shows that Castle Lemongrab isn’t completely devoid of empathy and hope. The lemon people, through their suffering, have learned to empathize as well, and continue to look on towards hope for the day they will be rescued. Though, one must also remember: the desires of the Lemon People still remain deeply selfish. They look for freedom of their own, yet depend on one very little boy to save an entire society of people. This comes in handy when taking a look at Lemonhope’s selfishness in his own star episode, which has gotten a lot of flack, but is considerably more understandable when looking at the sour nature of the Lemon People in general.

Whew, so that was Lemongrab’s portion, now let’s look at the horny teen at the center of it: Finn. After the events of Frost & Fire, Finn most likely was heartbroken and ashamed over the loss of his girlfriend. Having no one but himself to blame, Finn was left alone with nothing but his own guilt to bear. This is also a time where, as we’ve discussed, Finn has yet to even border emotional maturity. That’s why, instead of addressing the thing that he has done wrong and allowing time for himself to grieve, he turns to a comfortable source of endearment of whom he spent much simpler times with: Princess Bubblegum. Probably the most rewarding time that Finn has experienced in his youth did take place when Lemongrab usurped Prubs; spending the entire day pulling pranks and being childish with someone he cares for deeply was something that Finn truly cherished and enjoyed more than anything else. Finn longs for the simple days of being a child, when he didn’t have to deal with the tough trials of relationships, and when he could spend time with someone he remembers having terrific times with. What Finn hasn’t acknowledged is that times have changed since he last pulled a series of pranks on the cranky lemon man. Finn does not realize that he cannot simply escape from his issues using glamorized memories, and that the memories he has left behind cannot simply be recreated.

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This is where most of his jerkiness comes from; first, from his childish lie to Jake in order to spend time alone with Princess Bubblegum. People have targeted this one especially, though honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Finn held some hostility for Jake after contributing to the third occurrence of Flame Princess and Ice King’s fight in the past episode. Though it’s never addressed upfront, and his guilt most likely puts most of the blame on himself, I get the feeling that Finn is looking for a scapegoat to put blame on, much like Lemongrab, which leads him to targeting Jake. It’s mean on it’s own, but Finn’s insistent urge to manipulating PB proves that he hasn’t completely learned from his actions in the past episode, if at all. Finn simply wants to find a quick and easy way to feel good again, and selfishly does not consider the wellbeing of others in the process.

It’s interesting to note that Finn barely even reacts in relation to the Lemon-centric plot. It makes it somewhat ingeniously tied together in my eyes that these two character’s failure to recreate the past have virtually nothing to do with the other: Lemongrab could give less of a shit about Finn’s boner issues, and Finn doesn’t realize the severity of Lemongrab’s corrupt government. He’s still too young to look beyond situations as a fun and enticing adventure, which is why he weighs Lemongrab’s abusive, dictating nature as equal to the day when Lemongrab took over the kingdom. Finn doesn’t yet grasp political issues like this, and the first time he encountered such an issue, he attempted to solve it with pranks and gags. Naturally, he believes the same solution is in place, yet only through PB’s solemn words is he able to realize that exploding pudding isn’t going to save Castle Lemongrab. Finn wasn’t looking to save an entire kingdom; instead, he was looking to have a fun time with an old friend (or in this case, an old flame). Yet, growing up is realizing that life isn’t always a little boy game, and that sometimes there are dire consequences to deal with. Trying to pretend that the past can simply be emulated every time something bad happens is completely ineffectual, and Finn cannot ignore his shame and guilt forever.

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When looking at Finn that way, I think it is a lot more forgivable that, by the end of this one, he does at least learn something from his actions. We aren’t just treated to a barrage of insufferable Finn moments that have no real payoff for his character (as The Red Throne would later be guilty of), as these moments are all vital for giving Finn a reality check that is much needed. Aside from Jesse Moynihan, Steve Wolfhard and Tom Herpich seem to be the most ballsy in exploring the darker and more uncomfortable portions of Finn’s personality, and I really enjoy these expeditions. Even if Finn is somewhat of an uncharismatic dick, you really have to look at it from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. That doesn’t automatically correlate to decent writing, yet I think Finn’s issue at hand is presented with meaning and purpose. Finn is a sweet kid who wants the best for everyone, but as life has taken a turn for him, he has put his emotional sensitivity behind him and simply wants to be numbed to his own errors. And the sad truth of the matter is that a lot of nice people in the world have been negatively altered by the circumstances of life, to the point where their behavior is completely unrecognizable from their past self. 

Of course, at the center of this is PB; the level-headed guardian who just can’t catch a break. I sympathize with her a lot in this one, though there isn’t a ton of focus on her perspective. Her own creation has become a legitimate monster, and tons of people are suffering because of it, while the one person she thought could lessen the burden of a stressful trip actually made things more complicated and difficult. The poor gal just wanted to get through an already expectedly painful dinner.

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The humor in this one is paper thin, though this is a part of the series where I care much less about how funny an episode is and rather how captivating it can tell a story in the course of 11 minutes. Though this episode does have its funny moments, especially within the little details. BMO continuously trying to get into the bath with Jake while he’s on the phone with Finn is adorable and hilarious, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that the lemon toilet is a fucking juicer. There’s no way that isn’t excruciating.

I think some of my initial criticisms still stand, as the constant screaming of every single line performed by the Lemongrabs can grate on me a bit, but I think there’s some really brilliant undertones to this one that help it skyrocket beyond my first impressions. Capturing the motif of change between two distinctly different characters is interesting enough, yet there’s so many layers to Lemongrab and Finn’s individual identities that I feel like there’s so much you can read into and enjoy upon multiple viewings. Is Finn a dick? Yes. But this is an episode where he needs to be a dick. I can’t imagine the episode and allegories within this one working as well if Finn was just depressed or ignoring his issues the entire time. These choices, while potentially detrimental to Finn’s character, really work to emphasize a dangerous lesson in life, and to show its viewers the consequences that come with it. Whether it be Lemongrab’s inability to comprehend what it means to be a true leader, or Finn’s neverending issues with ladies, this episode combines two of the series recurring themes and blends them together for one completely uncomfortable, yet fascinating journey. It’s one of my favorites of the second half of season five, and one of the most interesting depictions of Finn during the fallout of his relationship.

Favorite line: “… and you’ll never get yelled at. Unless you drink my soda from out of the fridge.”

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“Be More” Review

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One of my favorite title cards in the series. So beautifully atmospheric as BMO begins his search for meaning.

Original Airdate: July 22, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

Any episodes focusing on BMO up to this point have revolved around his wildly vivid imagination, while also emphasizing the tragedy of his character. While cute and filled with creativity, BMO is also notorious for his desire to feel human emotions like anyone else, and “be more” than just a robot. It’s fitting then that Be More doesn’t focus on the tragic or darker elements of the character, but rather ties BMO to a heartwarmingly sweet origin story.

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It starts out, however, with a brief bit of innuendo that comes across as a somewhat somber portrayal of BMO’s character. He’s deleting files, or in this case, “deleting brain cells” which is a pretty obvious euphemism for drug use. Not sure why BMO would want to do something detrimental like this, but my guess is that it’s likely for experimentation and a possible surge of entertainment. Afterall, we never see him doing something like this following the episode, so it seems pretty obvious that BMO did learn his lesson.

But the rest of the episode is exceedingly less dark. It’s mainly a fun and light Finn, Jake, and BMO adventure, but a pretty good one at that. It’s one of those episodes that is just really likable in how nice the characters act around each other. The dynamic of Finn and Jake being BMO’s caretakers has been existent for a while, but I think this is perhaps one of the sweetest examples. I love how they willingly would rather put themselves into a potentially dangerous situation than to have BMO’s memory wiped completely, as expected. Most heartwarming is their intricate (albeit hilariously poor) ideas to disguise themselves as MOs, even if they have no idea what an actual MO aside from BMO looks like. I also love the brief glimpse of Finn’s chubbiness. Love how they give him some curvy edges; it makes sense that he wouldn’t be especially physically fit, because I’m sure he doesn’t really exercise outside of the typical adventure.

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Love the MO factory! First, I enjoy how it is apart of the Bad Lands; I like it whenever AT acknowledges some form of consistency with its geographical settings, so continuously adding new locations within designated landmarks (as Xergiok’s house was in The Great Bird Man) is pretty nifty to me. The MO Factory itself gives off some rad dystopian vibes. There’s broken glass, rustic growths, and just some generally off-putting shades of gray and blue that help add to its somber surroundings. The actual MOs themselves are a lot of fun. DMO (voiced by Aziz Ansari) is an enjoyably sassy and stuck up adversary for the boys, as are the quite bumbling SMOs. I originally viewed them as carbon copies of the Banana Guards, but I actually think they’re funnier than the average Banana Guard appearance. I enjoy their mundane work oriented conversations and their frequent use of the term “goof.” Also, the concept of robots trying to eat and drink on this show will never not be funny to me.

This one also has some moments of genuine excitement. The cart ride through the MO factory is just as funny as it is riveting; Finn memorizing the map right down to its corkscrew, is both wildly funny and absurd. A lot of it is boarded by Steve Wolfhard, who typically has nice drawings, though they don’t always translate terrifically when it comes to the animation process, but this sequence actually looks quite nice. There’s also a few cool Easter eggs, like the addition of AMO’s room, who would eventually play a bigger part two seasons later. Wolfhard is a stickler for including tiny bits of lore and information that could or could not come back in the future depending on what he or the other story editors wanted to do with it.

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The cream of the crop of this one is the ending, where we’re introduced to Moe, another semi-human who created BMO. Moe is a character I’ve always wished that we got to see a little more of, but I do enjoy the mystery surrounding him and his connections to creating modernized, as well as futuristic, technology after the apocalypse. The idea behind BMO’s creation is as sad as it is cute; sad because BMO was never used for what he was intended for, as Moe was never able to have children, but cute because BMO was essentially able to fulfill his purpose by meeting Finn. I don’t think we’re ever going to get a flashback story on how BMO, Finn and Jake met, nor do I think it’s necessary, but I assume that Finn did come across the little console when he was somewhere between 9-12, allowing BMO to make the connection he was intended to, and to “be more” than that. It really is the most adorable way to give BMO an identity beyond him just being a video game console. Though BMO was most likely never told his purpose, he likely knows his purpose regardless. He is there to be more than just a robot, and he constantly acknowledges it by not “feeling” like a robot. Despite his constant struggle with his identity and morality, BMO is simply going through the phases of what it means to be a living being, whether he knows it or not.

So yeah, I like it! It isn’t as dark or as analytical as some of the other BMO episodes we’ve gotten in the past, which I tend to get into more, but this one is just a fun, heartfelt journey that gives BMO an appropriately fitting origin. Tom Herpich’s promo art was almost as good as the title card itself, so I’ll share with you here.

There was also an original ending in the storyboard where Moe asked Finn, Jake, and BMO to leave so he could use the bathroom, and I’m really glad they took it out. Would’ve totally killed any warm feelings Be More left me with.

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Favorite line: “How’s your goofy wife?” “Pretty goofy!”

“Another Five More Short Graybles” Review

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Original Airdate: June 17, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard

Another Five More Short Graybles is the second Graybles episode in one season, so going into this one, it already feels somewhat like Graybles burnout. I don’t know why they chose to put two Graybles episodes so close together, but ignoring that fact, this one is a lot sloppier and more disjointed than Five More Short Graybles. Though, in typical Graybles fashion, it has some bits that work and some that don’t.

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The interludes with Cuber this time around feel somewhat lazy and more like filler than anything. Cuber hasn’t had much of a role in any of the Graybles episodes, aside from just being there to fill the “childlike host” archetype, and he still continues that trend, though it isn’t particularly entertaining and it takes up more time than it needs to. The birdhouse bit felt more slow paced than anything, and I really wish they would’ve removed this bit completely so the actual stories have a bit more time to develop and breathe a little.

The first story revolves around Jake and Jake Jr., which is easily the best story out of all of them. Jake and his daughter were perfectly jovial and had a strong connection in the previous episode, though this one focuses more on Jake’s awkwardness when it comes to not understanding the feelings of the pups and knowing how to connect with them emotionally. Jake Jr.’s concerns and frustrations in regards to her future leaves us with a very eloquently put statement that reads as relatable and genuinely well-put, though Jake isn’t able to connect as well because he still doesn’t understand where his daughter is at in her developmental stage. So, instead, he tries to amuse her with a distraction from her psychological troubles, even if it fails miserably. Again, I enjoy Jake Jr.’s presence here. I like how she’s kind of just your typical late teen, but she reads more as cool and likable than a bland stereotype. I enjoy how she supports her dad’s efforts to impress her, which shows that she may be even more mature than Jake at this point. I also like how her stretchy powers are achieved through her hair! Love the gag that ends it all as well, with Jake presenting the alleged newspaper from the following day that says, “JAKE JR. REAL COOL KID! Daddy’s Angel witnesses report. By Jake “The Dad” The Dog.” Jake is too darn sweet.

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The Cinnamon Bun bit is exceedingly annoying. I’ve never been a huge fan of O.G. Cinnamon Bun, and his appearance here really emphasizes why. He’s loud, obnoxious, and practically mentally insane at times. I don’t think there’s a single part of him that is charming or likable, and I welcome with open arms the day that he moves into the Fire Kingdom. Also, I think the Jake nightlights in this one are such a wildly bizarre sight gag. I wonder who manufactures these babies, and I also wonder why Finn and Jake have one themselves. Can you imagine having a nightlight with your face on it?

The Ice King scene is also kind of dry. I love the joke with his checklist and the separation of that one “e.” but the exchange with his penguins just seems a bit too familiar. Every Graybles episode up to this point features a story involving Ice King and his penguins, and this one just doesn’t really feel fresh or new in any sense. One thing I do like is the DVD of “Basic Mortality,” which very much seems like a pre-Mushroom War crime drama. Though, have we seen DVDs in the show before? My memory might be tricking me, but I feel like everything video related has been on VHS up to this point. Kind of seems like an inconsistency if that’s the case, similar to how all of the intricate cellular phones in the first few seasons became standard touchscreen phones after a period of time. Also, the inclusion of the “Airplanes Taking Off” DVD cracks me up, especially the review on the cover by C. Tinker: “Gripping… sensual.”

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The Lemongrab story that follows… oh man. I’ve watched this one so many times that it isn’t quite as crazy and hilarious as the first time I saw it, but it still remains one of the most jaw-droppingly amusing moments in the entire series. The voice work by Justin Roiland is terrific, as usual, and the absolute screams of terror as Lemongrab 2 is quite graphically eaten by his brother is just bafflingly hilarious. It also serves as an introduction for the eventual tension between the two Lemongrab brothers, as well as Lemongrab 1’s obsession with eating other people. All over poor little Lemonsweets, who tragically died in the incident. RIP.

Mr. Fox’s story doesn’t provide a ton… I do enjoy Mr. Fox in his smaller moments, especially his voicework by Tom Herpich, though I don’t think his character is really interesting enough to carry even just a Grayble. His main character trait is that he is incredibly lonely, though he’s kind of written without much of a personality in this one. And even then, do most people even know who Mr. Fox is up to this point? Like, even if you’re the most diehard of Adventure Time fans, I could still see someone scratching their head upon first seeing this short and saying, “oh yeah, that guy…” so his inclusion does make for a bit of an interesting choice. I do like the use of Mr. Fox’s subconscious, however. Jake’s subconscious was a gag in season one that didn’t make a ton of sense with the world of the show, though I do enjoy how this one adopts it as just a part of AT’s world and makes it more of a solidified aspect of the mythos. I do hope M.F.’s subconscious eventually led him to that treasure.

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The theme of the Graybles isn’t directly announced, which is a practice I actually support, because it makes guessing the motif that much more difficult. Though, I really only figured it out from looking on the wiki: the Graybles reference the five stages of grief, Finn “accepted” the package from Jake, Cinnamon Bun experienced a “denial” of light, Ice King used “bargaining” to watch his DVD, Lemongrab experienced “anger”, and Mr. Fox noticed the “depression” in the bed. I also think it’s funny how this one was advertised as a Father’s Day special, probably confusing most into thinking that was the overarching theme. Jake is Jake Jr.’s father, Princess Bubblegum is a parental figure to CB, Ice King is somewhat of a father to his penguins, the Lemongrabs took care of Lemonsweets, and Mr. Fox’s doesn’t really have anything to do with being a father figure. He takes care of the bugs… I guess? I’m just happy this isn’t the theme they likely went for.

So it’s somewhat polarizing, as most Graybles episodes are. I think this one’s especially rushed and doesn’t really have that many good stories, though the moments I enjoyed were a lot of fun. I will say this: it’s definitely more interesting than the Graybles episodes prior. I think I’ve watched the Lemongrab scene about 100 times more than any of the other Graybles before this. I also like how this one connects the stories with a particular line, that only gets more absurd and wacky as it goes along, my favorite being “what a jerk,” that is altered by Finn harmlessly saying, “what? A jerk?” That was a lot of fun and provided for some good laughs along the way. And it actually does have some moments that carry over into other episodes, namely the tension between the Lemongrabs and Mr. Fox’s experience with his subconscious. So while I can’t say it’s as coherently put together as Five Short Graybles or Five More Short Graybles, it’s definitely a bit more subversive than those first two.

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Favorite line: “Cinnamon Bun, you can’t sleep with a night-light anymore. You’re basically thirty—it’s starting to bum everyone out.”

“BMO Lost” Review

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Original Airdate: April 15, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

The way I see it, there’s two different methods I take to reviewing these episodes: by their quality, and by personal delight. For example, Puhoy is an episode that I think does everything exceedingly well and is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but it doesn’t really hit anywhere on a personal level. That doesn’t diminish its quality at all, but a different episode, like Gotcha! is a perfectly serviceable episode on the surface, but one I plain just don’t like because I don’t really care for Lumpy Space Princess that much. Quality and personable connections don’t really have to coincide entirely, but usually if I’m not looking at one of those traits, I’ll look to the other. And in this episode, BMO Lost, it’s one that isn’t really technically anything special in terms of quality, but I’m a stickler for anything BMO, so I like this one quite a bit. In fact, it’s one of my favorites of the first half of the season. Though I do acknowledge that I think one person’s feelings towards BMO could make or break the episode for them.

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For the most part, BMO Lost really is just a celebration of the titular character. Most of the humor, charm, and entertainment derive strictly from the tiny console in this, and it’s one I find myself constantly snickering at by just how “in his own world” BMO actually is. And I can also see chunks of this episode as BMO being unlikable to some, like BMO completely tuning out Bubble’s story, or how he covers up baby Ricky’s hand because he sees it as an imperfection. To me, that only drives home the naivety of his character. I love how innocent and brutally honest he can be at times, and if you ask me, there’s no better team that carries across that blend of charm and unintentional jerkiness than Herpich and Wolfhard. It’s no wonder the two of them have so many BMO centered episodes under their belt; they do exceedingly well at contributing depth and bluntness into BMO’s character that is so irresistible. Almost every line that BMO utters in this one hits home for me, it’s almost like watching a gallery of terrific line deliveries and quirky nonsense, mostly as a result of Niki Yang’s terrific voice acting, per usual.

The other star character of this one is Bubble, voiced by LeVar Burton, who you might otherwise know as the host of Reading Rainbow. Burton’s voicework in this one can easily be described as endearingly bland. There’s nothing special or particularly hilarious in regards to his deliveries, yet he carries across such an honest charm and genuine tone that I can’t help but find it exceedingly likable. In addition to that, I also like the simplicity of his design. It’s just a circle with two dots and a smile, but the transparency of his body allows for some pretty cool visual touches at times, and allow for the woodland backgrounds to really shine through. There’s also a decent amount of visual gags they accomplish with this, namely in the scene where he has to save BMO and baby Ricky from the waterfall, but doesn’t have anything physical strength to do so. While we’re on the subject, holy shit! That dead hunter with a gun is just chillin’ out in the open right in front of our eyes. I know we’ve seen plenty of dead people and apocalyptic Easter eggs in the past, but I can’t recall one in the recent future that’s been this explicit and out there.

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And then there’s baby Ricky, or should I say, Sparkle, who doesn’t do much in terms of having any funny moments or driving the plot further that much, though it does provide for an interesting connection made with BMO. I think BMO’s feelings towards him can easily be described as any child who has been around a baby, and BMO’s maternal (I know I keep referring to BMO as “he” in this one, but truth be told, I can make up my mind which pronoun is most fitting in this one) instincts come out in full force. There are a lot of cute and funny ways BMO interacts with Sparkle, but it also provides for the most dramatic moment in the episode: when Sparkle’s mother finds her baby. BMO quite selfishly tries to take Sparkle away from his mother, and when he loses, Sparkle’s mother simply utters that BMO should be ashamed of himself. Cue a fade to black, where BMO reflects sadly on himself, and the realization that he doesn’t have his life and reality in his grasp as much as he once thought. The entire day was one big game to him that was soiled by the realization that he took his game too far, and now he’s more lost physically and mentally than ever.

However, Bubble does bring up an optimistic solution when BMO realizes he’s closer to his home than he once thought, and, upon returning home, Bubble reveals his inner most thoughts to BMO. It’s a very lovely and heartwarming scene that, believe it or not, is actually pretty convincing. I do really believe that Bubble loves BMO and that BMO helped show him the way, and none of it feels too mushy or melodramatic. I genuinely enjoy the connection this bubble has with this video console.

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And I’m not lying guys, that scene where Jake enters the scene and pops Bubble fucking killed me. There’s three times I’ve cried/gotten misty eyed at this show: the ending of I Remember You, the ending of The Light Cloud, and the climax of this fucking episode. I don’t know if it was because I was still a sensitive, angsty teenager when this first aired, but by God, seeing one of BMO’s close friends get virtually “killed” was heartbreaking. And it made me despise Finn and Jake for at least the next 5 or 6 episodes. I’ve simmered down now and the popping scene strikes me as more shockingly funny than depressing, but still, that shit is burning me somewhere deep down inside. But of course, it’s made lighter by the fact that Bubble is now free as “Air,” and he’s able to watch over BMO for the rest of eternity, to which BMO happily responds. It’s a really unsettling “what the fuck” ending that is only made better by BMO’s reaction to all of it. I love that, despite being promised a lifetime of never being alone for a second, BMO instead is excited that he doesn’t have to deal with loneliness and can instead enjoy the company of a playmate forever. It’s a really cute and funny ending that really captures the magic of BMO.

So again, if you’re not a BMO fan, I’m not sure how much you’ll actually get out of this one, but for my money, I really enjoyed it. It’s a cute spotlight moment for BMO, with some legitimately heartwarming moments, as well as plenty of silly and laughable moments. It’s one that I definitely hold dear to me, and focuses on all of the best aspects of BMO’s personality in the most respectful and passionate way.

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Favorite line: “Thanks to us he’s going to grow up and be anything he wants to be: a strapping horse whisperer or a sexy hitman or whatever.”

“Puhoy” Review

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Original Airdate: April 8, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Puhoy is arguably one of the most theoretical episodes to date. I’ve seen more diverse interpretations for this one than any other episode, and for good reasons. It’s a purely heady fantasy adventure that once again touches on Finn’s entrance into puberty and his growth, and one that does a pretty fantastic job at that. I’ll be honest, even after several viewings of this one, I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to gather from it, but I mean that in the very best way, as this is one that continues to intrigue and interest me on multiple viewings after.

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As a knifestorm rains down on the Treehouse, Finn contemplates his relationship with Flame Princess and the current state that it’s in. Apparently it’s in the midst of a disaster, mainly because FP didn’t laugh at one of Finn’s jokey joke jokes, which makes Finn seriously consider ending the relationship over such a small debacle. It is interesting to see Finn in such a state of independence; as we’ve seen in the past, and as we will see in the future, Finn is usually much more dependent on Flame Princess than she is to him, so seeing him quite confidently acknowledge that he should end the relationship is certainly remarkable. Obviously I don’t think his confidence in this decision would last, and I think it’s totally something he would later regret in a few days, but it still strikes me as interesting that he shows no fear of potentially losing her. Jake gracefully tries to show Finn the error of his attitude, showing that getting hung up on issues that Finn himself has created in his mind won’t get him anywhere. He demonstrates this by tossing his favorite mug out the window, thereby releasing any emotional connection he had to it and not allowing it to cloud his attention. This is retconned later on when Jake reels the mug back in, showing that the desire to resist what your heart tells you and the resistance of persisting thoughts aren’t as easy as they seem. This is why Finn, who usually heeds to Jake’s advice, instead chooses to take time to “fester” and enters the pillow fort.

The pillow fort quickly turns into a pillow world, and Finn finally finds himself in an enchanted universe. The pillow world is adorable and lots of fun. The episode is quite creative in showcasing some terrific and colorful backgrounds, as well as some really nice looking designs. The Pillow World commits to everything being made of pillows to a tee, from Finn eventually gaining a robotic pillow arm (FORESHADOWING!!!!!) and the various textures on the inhabitants’ clothes and body parts. It all looks really lovely, and is one of my personal favorite locations in the entire series, purely on a visual level. There’s something quite whimsical feeling about it, and again, “whimsical” is a fascinating adjective to use when describing a world literally made out of pillows. But, as usual, the background artists really did their damndest to make this world feel authentic, and it pays off tremendously.

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But the real meat of the episode, however, is Finn’s experience within the Pillow World. Finn practically lives his life all in one packaged day: getting married, having kids, forgetting his younger self, and even eventually dying. It’s the type of a mindfuck premise that really kind of makes me wonder how much of it is happening in real-time, much like the premise of Hall of Egress later on. Mindfucks aside, I just genuinely enjoy seeing an older version of Finn, and I’m pretty sure it’s exactly how anyone had envisioned him. He’s a buff, masculine, bearded hero with a missing arm. That last part always makes me question what exactly was sharp enough in the pillow world to actually physically slice his arm off, but I’m probably reading too far into things. Besides that, I really love his family as well! His relationship with Roselinen doesn’t get a ton of development, as expected in a marriage that only spans the course of eleven minutes, but there’s something about the way the two work off of each other that makes it seem so… believable.

And I think that’s the best way to describe everything and everyone that Finn encounters in the Pillow World: believable. Whether this world is reality or not, I have no trouble believing that Finn would be a sexy, buff hero as a grown man, that he would have an honest and understanding wife, as well as two well-raised children. It actually has you kind of rooting for Finn to stay in the Pillow World at times, just because it seems like he’s created a comfortable living space for himself here. And there’s plenty of nice little tidbits, including the fact that Finn’s children are named “Jay” and “Bonnie,” which is especially endearing considering that, even after however many years Finn has spent in the Pillow World, he still holds a deep admiration for PB in his heart. Also a subtle moment, but I actually like the brief moment of sadness Roselinen experiences when Quilton reveals to Finn a possible way to escape their world. I just love that they did take the time to give this character some real depth and sympathetic traits. Even if the relationship is based on fantasy and that we want Finn to return home and acknowledge the error of his ways with his current/past girlfriend, Roselinen is someone who still put her all into getting to know Finn, marrying him, and giving birth to their two children, and although she acknowledges later on that she knew that Finn would have to leave eventually, she had settled into a terrific life with him. Though. Finn himself isn’t able to see that because of his lingering thoughts of wanting to go home. Roselinen proves to be one of the most emotionally mature and sound love interests he’s experienced even since the moment they danced to an instrumental of Let Me Show You Something Special, though Finn is once again more hung up on the past than the present in front of him.

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It boils down to Finn meeting up with “the oracle” Rasheeta, who really just seems like some crazy old man with bowel issues. It’s an enjoyable interaction, mostly carried by the voice work of Wallace Shawn, who I’m still glad got to lend his unique voice to a show like AT. I also really dig that “tea leaves” joke. Once Finn departs Rasheeta’s home, and states that he must “fester a bit,” mirroring his line earlier in the episode, he begins to acknowledge that, perhaps instead of focusing all of his attention on the troubles he’s faced with, perhaps he should just kick back and allow himself to accept life for what it is and allow the unknown to enter. Even as Finn recounts Jake’s message to him prior, he realizes that he isn’t even able to recall the interaction completely, and his warped sense of memory won’t do him any good when it comes to making worthwhile decisions. It’s here where Finn simply allows himself to let go of the past and focus on the positive connections that better his life, not the troubling thoughts that plague him from developing further.

This proves beneficial to Finn until his very last days, where he is surrounded by those who love and care for him. It’s a moment that is a bit touching, though it mostly focuses on being silly and light. I mean, even if our main protagonist is technically dying, we all know he isn’t actually just going to be killed off, so we spend more time enjoying Finn as an old coot, until he dies and enters some form of Dead World. Here, he’s met with a demon-like character known as GOLB, who is featured in subsequent episodes and may or may not be the big bad that kicks off the entire series. But we’ll see, I guess?? Finn’s only interaction with this deity is a brief bounce off of his tongue, as he re-enters the reality he left behind in Ooo. And if I had to guess, I’d probably have to say that the Pillow World Finn entered was real, and Finn’s interaction with GOLB simply erased that reality from his timeline and memory. Though, Finn is presumably met with a lesson at hand when Flame Princess does call to acknowledge how funny Finn’s joke was. He doesn’t recall a single thing that happened in his “dream” but the call from FP showed him that he was simply overreacting, and that viewing anything with an attitude of acceptance and patience is really much more worthwhile and mentally beneficial than creating drama and alternate versions of reality within the realm of your mind. That’s what I got out of it, at least. I’m sure y’all have plenty more interpretations yourselves, so feel free to share!

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And I neglected to mention the brief glimpses we get into BMO and Jake straight chillin’ within the Treehouse, which are just as terrific. They range from silly to somewhat poignant, where we get some funny and enjoyable lines like, “Jake, you drive a hard burger;” BMO’s incapability to grasp the human language never tires on me. There’s also a totally out of nowhere scene where BMO asks Jake if he misses his babies, and Jake just sadly grunts, which actually is pretty effective. We haven’t heard anything about the kids for 10 or so episodes, so it’s nice to see that they are acknowledging that Jake isn’t quite over the fact that he didn’t have a proper chance to raise his children, and that it is affecting him in one way or another. Also, the Pillow World, while thoroughly enjoyable, was somewhat light on actual jokes, so it was nice to have these brief interludes with the Treehouse boys.

Overall, I really, really enjoy this one. It’s experimental in all the best ways, and a really interesting use of a fantastical scenario that focuses on a different aspect of Finn’s life. It’s no secret that this episode takes some inspiration from Star Trek: The Next Generation, right down to the fact that it has Jonathan Frakes voicing the adult Finn, but it does so in all the best ways. All of it is so compelling: adult Finn and his family are really interesting and likable, and provide for a very subtle and ambiguous story that doesn’t really focus on heroes and bad guys, but the trials of life and how they are dealt with. Even as an adult, Finn isn’t able to completely pinpoint his issue of being too obsessed with his issues. It’s a pretty nice motif that carries across the message that everyone in this world should stop taking everything so fucking seriously. Relax! Have sex with a pillow if you need to! Luckily enough, however, Finn was able to realize his faults before he turned fifty, and is able to continue a healthy and ethical relationship with Flame Princess…. For now. I have few problems with this one besides that brief moment at the beginning where CMO lands on top of BMO’s head, mainly because it makes absolutely no sense as to why he would be there besides for a cheap easter egg gag. Aside from that brief nitpick, this one is a considerably shiny gem to me.

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Favorite line: “You’re getting all hung up, all hung up on imaginary problems. You gotta focus on what’s real, man.”

“All Your Fault” Review

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Original Airdate: January 28, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

I was somewhat dreading this one at first. I thought it was a really silly idea to have a fully focused Lemongrab episode coming right after his terrific appearance in the last episode. For that reason, I think I went into this one less enthusiastic at first, and it somewhat dampened my opinion of it for a while. However, looking at it with clear eyes now and not paying attention to the actual episode order has made me really enjoy this one. It’s actually pretty great.

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In typical AT fashion, the beginning doesn’t waste any time setting up for the episode’s main story, as only the first minute is used to explain the conflict (loved the Lemongrabs’ letter, especially how they took the time to write out, “mmmmmmn”) and send Finn and Jake on their mission. I also really enjoyed the “date” Jake was having with Cinnamon Bun. It was really sweet to see Jake so committed to dressing up with a bow and humor CB for a couple of hours. You rarely get to see that sort of genuine kindness from Jake aside from the kindness he shows Finn, Lady, and his kids.

The episode glances over that first bit fast, because the main focus of the episode is on the Earldom of Lemongrab. And boy, does it capture my interest. Without it, this would just be a pretty typical dungeon quest for the boys, but the entire atmosphere of the Earldom is just plain zombie-like. The landscape is ugly and an eyesore, but in a self-aware and effectively unnerving way. It’s filled with unwelcoming greens, yellows, and browns that just simply make the episode pop with nausea. There’s already something a bit off and uncomfortable about the Lemongrabs in general, so the fact that there are now dozens of them running around, some with very distinct and creepy features (pretty sure this guy didn’t appear in All Your Fault, but this catlike lemon person is by far the freakiest out of any of ‘em.) Part of the fun is just seeing Finn and Jake’s reactions to all of them, especially Jake’s. I love how absolutely terrified he is, and just simply utters “nope!” before bursting out of the room when he sees the screaming, peeling lemon. That was priceless.

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During their expedition, they also encounter the main anti-hero of the episode: Lemonjon. Lemonjon’s probably my favorite aspect of this episode; for some reason, he gives me major Rock Biter vibes from The NeverEnding Story. In fact, this episode in general gives me major Return to Oz vibes. It’s creepy, unsettling, but there’s something really sophisticated and unusual about it. Lemonjon is basically the epitome of dark and whimsical, and the down-pitched Justin Roiland voice actually sounds pretty awesome. I’m impressed he was able to pull off that impressive of a performance for just using his typical Lemongrab voice with slight modifications, but it really works, especially during his ending monologue. But we’ll get to that awesomeness later.

When Finn and Jake finally do reach the Lemograbs, it’s clear that they are not well. This is the first real-time we get to see the Lemongrabs work off of each other, and man, are they fucking creepy together. Not to mention their stomachs have receded greatly and their general appearance has deteriorated, which only adds to their presence of unease. And here, the Lemongrabs’ motivations are pretty well-defined. Their connection with each other, as well as Lemongrab 1’s discovery that there was a method, or in this case a serum, to create more living beings to connect with most likely deeply intrigued him. Having Lemongrab 2 by his side gave the first Lemongrab a sense of belonging and pride. Yet, it’s still only one person. Lemongrab wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps and have a society of citizens, or in this case children, to care for. In this instance, he and his counterpart are actually obsessed with it. They love having other living beings exist in Castle Lemongrab that are like and equivalent to themselves. But their efforts to populate their own kingdom have left them with low amounts of food to serve the entire kingdom. They’d rather just fuck around with the serum and make barfing babies all day. A lot of people have commented about the connections to overpopulation, but I really just think its commentary on how lonely the Lemongrabs are. They’re literally sacrificing their only sources of food to create more living beings, simply because they enjoy doing it so much.

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And of course, the continued trend of Lemongrab’s accusations of Princess Bubblegum being the title of the episode returns, this time with Lemongrab blaming PB for the reason why the Lemon People are starving. This one is maybe the most ludicrous accusation of all, but connects back to You Made Me in the sense that anything Lemongrab does wrong, or anytime he feels something is wrong with himself, Princess Bubblegum is the one to blame no matter what because she created him. Again, it’s another pretty interesting mindset that LG perceives, and it really makes me question Lemongrab’s feelings on PB as a whole. He admires who she is, yet detests her for creating him without a properly functioning sense of sociability. It’s pretty somber.

This adds up to the big conclusion where the Lemongrabs decide to infiltrate the Candy Kingdom for more food, against Finn and Jake’s original requests. This is where Lemonjon takes off, and the artwork, as well as the camera angles used, just look terrific. This is one of many instances where Herpich’s boarding looks just superb; his attention to detail on both the characters and their expressions translates very well when it comes to the animation process. So when Finn and Jake decide to target Lemonjon from his lemon heart, Jake accidentally kickstarts the heart, and drives Lemonjon to pronounce a thoughtful soliloquy.

Whoa, hold the phone! What is this powerful new juice coursing fromst my core source? The juice aches. Is this the rumored ache of feeling? The feeling of caring unknown to Lemons? New thoughts emerge! If I act, the Candy People will suffer. If I don’t, the Lemon people will suffer. The greater good demands but one course only: that I dissolve the bonds uniting me and become component to all!

Man, do I love this monologue. I feel like this is what comes to mind when I think of a super heady, long-winded speech from the series, while most probably turn to the Tart Toter’s speech from The Other Tarts. I just think this one is so eloquently and somewhat touchingly put, in the silliest most Adventure Time-y way possible. I think it’s really badass of Lemonjon to practically kill himself in a result for the greater good, by both saving the Candy Kingdom, as well as providing food for the Lemon People. That Lemonjon is alright! The episode is resolved by PB erasing the candy serum formula from the Lemongrabs’ brains, but not changing their hearts, simply because they’re just “like that.” Not sure if that was the most direct answer, but I think it ties more into the idea that, one again, PB doesn’t want to change the Lemongrabs for who they are. Just as Cinnamon Bun is half-baked, the Lemongrabs are socially and mentally inept, but that’s the Lemongrabs for ya, and there isn’t anything that can change that.

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Overall, I think this one is quite an enjoyable escapade. I really dig the creepy atmosphere and how much emphasis was placed on Castle Lemongrab being as ugly and disfigured as possible. Lemonjon was also the perfect one-off character story to tie into this one, and it’s a story I think was pulled off exceptionally well. Add a perfectly enjoyable Finn and Jake quest to those aspects and you get a really enticing adventure-themed episode. After two Lemongrabs in a row, however, I’ll need some time for my juices to sit for a while.

Favorite line: “Fix the door? What?! What? Fix the door? Fix–what? What’s goin’ on here? Fix the door! Finn, what’s goin’ on? Fix the door!”

“Five More Short Graybles” Review

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Original Airdate: November 19, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

We’re back with another Graybles episode! As I’ve mentioned before, Graybles focused episodes are far from my favorite AT excerpts, but nevertheless are always fun and charming little expeditions throughout the everyday lives of Ooo’s civilians. This episode is also significant in being Steve Wolfhard’s first board as a full time storyboard artist. This is also Wolfhard and Tom Herpich’s first board together, and they would eventually become one of my favorite teams in the entire series, as well as the longest running partnership to date.  

The first grayble, which revolves around Finn and Jake, is much like their first grayble together, as it’s consistently occurring in the background of other graybles and closes the entire sequence. It’s not as spontaneous or epic as their high-five challenge, but it’s certainly cute and inventive. I love Jake reading waaay too deeply into the book of nursery rhymes, which could and/or could not be a reference to others reading way too deeply into children’s cartoons like AT, but it makes for a silly idea regardless. The entire segment feels like a return to the carefree enjoyment of the Land of Ooo after four episodes of heavy drama. I know people really wanted Adventure Time to be this really heavily serialized show after the Lich came back into play, but it’s nice to watch a completely stress-free hangout session of the boys sticking their thumbs in various items. My favorite (and the cutest of all) was Jake sticking his thumb in the belly of a now very noticeably pregnant Lady. D’awww!

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Next up is Marceline’s story, which, after only seeing her once in a blue moon during season four, it’s nice to get to spend time with her 3 out of the 4 past episodes (even though the last two she was in technically wasn’t our beloved Marcy). Again, this scene is cute. It’s nothing particularly funny or spectacular, though the obvious “rock giant” pun did get a guilty snicker out of me. The one gripe I have with this one is that, if Marcy was flying above the clouds on the rock giant’s hand, then how the fuck didn’t she interact with the sun at all? It’s pretty obvious that this was an afterthought, as the sky did appear sunny in the previews of the episode. I assume that someone noticed and quickly made the sky dark and cloudy before the premiere of the episode, which is slightly less distracting than if the sky was just completely sunny. All I can say about this slight inconsistency is, “at least it isn’t Princess Day.”

The Tree Trunks short really steals the show for me, with a hilarious innuendo that I’m actually quite surprised got past the censors. Though, I think it’s subtle enough that even children who are too young to understand the joke will able to have enough fun with it anyways. It’s also nice to see TT in a scenario that’s well fitting for her. Dream of Love was perhaps her most pitiful episode to date, and made it clear that, while I do very much enjoy her character, she really struggles to hold up an entire episode on her own. Thus, it’s nice to include her in the Graybles format, in a story short that incorporates her character well and doesn’t overdo her slow and sometimes meandering personality. Also, Shelby returns! After going the entire fourth season without appearing, it’s nice to see the little guy back in the spotlight, and he does start gradually appearing more from Season Five onward. His high-pitched Pendleton Ward voice is always welcomed, and he really helps drive the main joke of the grayble to a hilarious conclusion. And, despite my disdain for the OG Cinnamon Bun, I think him hopping up and down in Tree Trunks’ stockings was actually pretty funny. Wonderful!

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Ice King’s story is also a comedic high point for the episode. Though I think the Ice King legitimately dating his foot is a bit too sad and insane for even the IK, there’s a good amount of funny gags with this one that I don’t mind the ludicrousy of it. There’s also some terrifically grotesque close ups of the IK’s feet and hands, complete with bulging veins and liver spots. It’s also surprisingly sweet to once again see Ice King’s view of marriage, this time he points out, “That means I get the remote control three days a week and you get it four!” It caps off with a perfect ending as well, as Ice King begins to develop feelings for his seductive looking right foot. Man, I didn’t think I’d ever find a character from this show more fascinated with feet than Jake is.

BMO’s tale returns to the interactions between she and Football, and it’s nothing that new. It’s basically everything that was already established by their first grayble, and nothing really more interesting from there. Though, I do like how far BMO is willing to go with her imagination. The fact that she repeatedly splashes herself with tea and begins short-circuiting is both somewhat concerning and hilarious. BMO doesn’t give a shit if she explodes completely, as long as she captures the perspective of being a living child.

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And of course, we close out with Cuber’s big revelation of the overarching theme! I enjoy how this one fucks with everyone’s perception equally, and again, manages to avoid directly mentioning the bird being flipped. I thought it was a perfect ending that caught me pretty off guard, and definitely urged me to be more alert for plot twists when the next Graybles episode came along.

So yeah, not much to say with this one. It’s not great nor bad, just a cute selection of stories revolving around the delightful citizens of Ooo. Much like the first Graybles episode, there isn’t anything that particularly noteworthy, but still a fun and enjoyable entry that is still an entirely pleasant sit-through.

Favorite line: “No one’s had five fingers for twenty blablillion glaybles!”