Original Airdate: August 29, 2011
Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan
Wizard Battle is a bit of a missed opportunity in my book. Instead of taking the time to actually show us some really cool wizard battles (this really could’ve simply been a standalone Ice King episode of himself participating in the battle) it’s mostly shaped down to a pretty simplistic, yet mildly effective Finn-PB romance plot.
In general, pretty much all the wizards are there. Huntress Wizard, Laser Wizard, Bufo, Grand Master Wizard, and so on. Even Science Whyzard is there, who is actually just Doctor Princess in disguise. What a bizarrely interesting cameo that makes for as well. What prompted the writers to have Doctor Princess pretend to be a wizard? Considering her character’s entire life is a giant facade, it actually does make sense with her identity that she’d make up an entirely new false persona.
It’s a considerably weaker Ice King episode, since he really doesn’t have any strong characterization or motives besides simply wanting to kiss Princess Bubblegum. And c’mon, where are his ice nunchucks from Chamber of Frozen Blades?? That could’ve easily solved the barely addressed conflict of the IK cheating right there. Though he doesn’t take a large amount of focus, because this is the debut episode for Abracadaniel. Abracadaniel’s a humorous dork; he’s definitely not one of my favorite side characters, and in terms of awkward nerdlings, I think I’d choose Banana Man over him. He still gets a decent amount of good lines, and I still really love that Steve Little delivery. The animation and timing for how much he struggles to use his wand is really terrific and only strengthens the experience of Abracadaniel’s incredibly weakness as as wizard.
It’s also a bit odd to see Princess Bubblegum at a pro-wizards event, considering how strongly she feels about magic versus science. Even weirder is her subjecting herself to being seen as a prize to anyone who participates in wizard battle. As Jesse Moynihan gracefully stated:
“She’s a diplomat, her number one priority is to keep the peace.”
And from Kent Osborne:
“It’s like the president participating in an Easter egg hunt.”
I still think it’s a bit of a stretch that she’d attend an event like this, but it seems like she isn’t completely taking it seriously to begin with. The only one who’s really taking it seriously is Finn, who arrives at a breaking point when it comes to his feelings for Bubblegum. The real meat of the episode is when he blows up at Jake, simply because it’s taken Finn this long to be completely honest with his feelings about PB. Though at the same time, it’s somewhat odd. Wasn’t Finn pretty upfront with Jake about wanting to go out with the Princess back in Too Young? It seems like this scene could’ve fit a bit more gracefully back in season two, but nevertheless, it’s a very well performed moment of turmoil that doesn’t take itself too seriously or dramatically.
Besides that one scene though, I think the rest of the episode is pretty disposable. I love a lot of the designs of the wizards, including Finn and Jake’s cosplay outfit, and I really would’ve enjoyed seeing some of the many interactions between them. There’s plenty of quirky gags and funny lines to get me through, but Finn’s infatuation with PB just isn’t enough to keep me invested in the plot, and I think this was a point when these types of stories were becoming stale. We pretty much know for certain that, as of Too Young, PB totally isn’t going to slide for Finn romantically. That’s not to say his infatuation can’t go in an interesting direction, like it does later in this season. But Wizard Battle takes it in a direction that just feels repetitive. I’m glad that Finn got his one kiss from PB (his very last in the series, as well) but I’m also glad this is the last episode that deals with his love for her in such a competitive way.
At least Ice King looks crazy see-yik in those glasses though.