Original Airdate: June 1, 2015
Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan
With all that I ended up writing about Breezy, you’d likely assume that it was my favorite episode of season six. It comes close, but such an achievement would not be accomplished until You Forgot Your Floaties came along. This is an absolute favorite of mine, and I don’t just mean top 10 or 20 – this is top 3 material right here. Jesse Moynihan goes outright ballistic with how much emphasis he puts on ambiguity, to the point where it feels as though nothing is completely spelled out for the benefit of the audience. I wouldn’t say it’s left to the viewer’s interpretation as much as The Mountain; most of You Forgot Your Floaties is interpreted with a common consensus among fans. It’s scattered with riddle-like speak, but nothing that feels nearly impossible to decode or to be understood. But it’s not just the deeper layers that help this one to really stick out, it’s a passion story about a character of whom is known no better than by Moynihan himself. Magic Man’s backstory was previously elaborated on in Sons of Mars, and the hints of tragedy regarding his character come full circle in this one, as he finally confronts the madness and sadness within himself. Betty also gets some much needed screentime after her previously physical debut in Betty, and is cleverly used in comparison to Magic Man himself as an unfortunate soul who painfully lost her significant other. It doesn’t sound like a typical episode of a children’s animated show, or even most adult animated shows for that matter. You Forgot Your Floaties is an unbelievably impressive tale focusing on the hidden depth behind the true nature of magic within the world of Adventure Time, and stands out as one of the most unique episodes of television that I’ve ever witnessed.
In typical Moynihan form, this episode doesn’t waste much time throwing us directly into the action, as Finn and Jake search thoroughly for the remnants of Glob’s helmet after his “death” in Astral Plane. This episode doesn’t feature much of Finn and Jake, but it’s fun to have this little opening regardless. As always, the boys are tons of fun, and their dialogue exchanges are as delightfully quirky as ever. I think I quote “I have a weird feeling in my fat basket” at least once a week. It’s also cool to see their general interest in retrieving remnants of Glob’s being; though Finn humorously implies that the two are scavengers, I get the feeling that part of him also desires to keep Glob’s head as a choice souvenir, as it seems like just the bit of treasure that Finn would want to proudly protect within the comforts of the Tree Fort.
But, as Finn and Jake are quickly turned into breakfast foods at the episode’s beginning, we’re introduced to our main characters within this episode: Magic Man and Betty. The episode also wastes no time by showing Magic Man at his absolute most sadistic and cruel. I mean, he’s done shit like this to Finn and Jake before, but here, he practically kills Finn and Jake and leaves them to rot as food products while he leaves Earth for eternity. It also ties into what’s quite frankly amazing about Magic Man as a character: despite what a sadist he truly is, it’s still easy to feel empathy for him in his more vulnerable moments. There’s something irresistibly tragic to me about jerks who were once caring, passionate souls, but were hardened by the circumstances of their life and no longer could bring themselves to show any form of affection whatsoever. It’s the Joker archetype of character building that sort of reigns similar to Ice King’s tragic history, though not exactly in the same realm of tragedy. Magic Man is consciously aware of his loss, and chose a path of madness and sadness during his inability to cope with said loss in his life. Though, that latter part is certainly up for debate. Just how much are sadness and madness directly caused by magic?
Betty brings up M.M.S. – or Magic, Madness and Sadness – which she directly correlates to the nature of being a magic user in general. It brings up a unique argument about the nature of how magic users operate when it comes to their own emotional states. We’ve seen magic users who do seem relatively competent and happy-go-lucky demeanor, but mainly on the surface. Ron James is even used as an example of sadness, of which we’ve never even known about his character in the past. Yet, I don’t necessarily think that magic, madness, and sadness are inherently linked in one defining path… I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. Magic is something that can be used for the greater good, and as of this episode, we’ve seen two examples of how having such mystical powers can affect somebody inadvertently: Evergreen went mad trying to keep himself safe and preserve the world, while Magic Man went both mad and incredibly sad while trying to perfect his magic in order to bring back his late wife. So no, I don’t think magic users are intrinsically sad by just simply possessing magic abilities, but also that having such power can often lead to thoughts and desires that could be considered unorthodox by any “normies”, ex. “How can I save myself from certain disasters with magic?” “How can I save the people I love with such abilities?”
Betty seems to have the upperhand by understanding just how much magic affects other people, but simply knowing her facts doesn’t protect her from the inevitability of falling into the same steps as her acquaintance. The connection between Betty and Magic Man is quite interesting and unique. I get the feeling that Betty knows just how untrustworthy Magic Man is, but needs to be around him in order to get some kind of breakthrough in her studies regarding how to reverse Simon’s behavioral antics. Betty knows exactly how sad and mad Magic Man is, and wants to discover what kind of raw energy and history surrounds him so that she can discover the true cause of M.M.S. and how it connects to magic as a whole. Of course, this conversation leads to a lot of different neat Moynihanian metaphors that only someone as bizarre as him could come up with, namely regarding the coconut crab who swims within Betty’s neighbor’s pool. It’s such a weird and unusual analogy to capture the idea of people metaphorically failing to stay afloat as they try and manage to survive through the sadness and madness surrounding themselves.
Magic Man’s continuous inference that his past and mind is essentially a waste basket (which is referenced again later on) connects to the fact that Margles is gone and erased from history, and that any past he had with her must be erased from viewing eye as well. His line, “you imagined the lock before the key,” references the ideology that there’s nothing to see within Magic Man as it is. With his suppression and his madness, it’s easy for Magic Man to get lost within his own psychosis and to create his own false sense of being, though Betty smartly brings the actual key, which is the one remaining token to Magic Man’s past: the picture of MM and Margles.
It’s also worth noting how funny this episode manages to be even amongst all of this heady drama. Tiny Manticore makes interlaced appearances throughout Betty and Magic Man’s interactions, and he’s simply hilarious. For a character who only had a couple of minutes of screentime in Sons of Mars, he actually manages to be a pretty fun and likable character through competent voice acting by Tom Kenny, per usual, and his absolute desire to be a hero, despite his unfortunate role of being stuck with Stockholm Syndrome.
A pretty rad poem read off by Magic Man is what transitions into Betty entering the mind of her manic partner,
“Smooth and gray as far as you can see. No life grows in me. Nothing to weed. Nothing to seed. Pure and perfect. Like the marble floors of a bank.You slide with no obstacles, forever blank.”
Again, Magic Man once more tries to mask his sadness by offering a blank perspective of his true state of being. It’s appropriate then, that a literal “mask” is the key to figuring out the truth behind Magic Man’s life history, as the picture leads Betty past the smooth and gray marble floors and into the eyes of Margles. The following scenes are pretty fucking amazing all-around, and played as seriously and dramatically as possible. Again, Kenny’s voice acting is absolutely superb in capturing the more subdued and quiet side of Magic Man, as he slowly utters, “Margles? Wake up, Margles.” Even with a voice that’s designed to sound manipulative and snarky, Kenny is able to breathe a surge of humanity into such an apathetic character. It’s even more interesting that this story takes the relationship between Margles and Magic Man to an entire new level and defied expectations almost completely. This is a lot more interesting than the implication in Sons of Mars that Margles just simply fell off Olympus Mons and died, and it’s further elaborated on by showing that said Margles isn’t even really Margles. M.A.R.G.L.E.S., or magical automated resistance generating laser energy supplier, was created to protect against the second coming of GOLB, but it’s very clear that this is where Magic Man’s madness and sadness came into play. The second coming of GOLB was likely a heavily anticipated event that Magic Man was forced to be prepared for, though he was unable to leave the hardship of his deceased wife out of it. He was left with the hardship of choosing between creating a being that would protect the greater good, versus a being that he loved deeply and wanted nothing more than to be with forever. He settled for both, but ultimately still suffered because of his inability to cope with said feelings. Yet, his magic created a visual appearance of Margles, but not a reincarnation of Magic Man’s past wife.
Magic Man’s proclamation of his sadness on Olympus Mons really sums up the nature of just how powerful his feelings of sadness and loss are. Adventure Time always hits it out of the park whenever it deals with sadness, and this is no exception. Using a fantasy world emphasizes exactly how desperate one can become when dealing with such sadness and loss within one’s life. Magic Man detailing: “every dimension, every dead world” as a means of how far he went just for the possibility of bringing his wife really adds depth and meaning to just how much Magic Man adored Margles. For a relationship that was barely ever elaborated on before, You Forgot Your Floaties manages to encapsulate the true extent to how much Magic Man loved Margles, and the true impact that her death left on him. Going back to the waste basket comment, the extent of Magic Man’s madness is shown through Prismo’s timeroom, when he wish for Margles only ends up appearing as the wastebasket that Magic Man previously mentioned to be what existed in his mind: nothingness. The Margles that Magic Man created, in turn, was not the Margles he was expecting to see. After hundreds of years without seeing Margles, even Magic Man himself cannot truly recreate the past that he once lived. The new Margles was exactly what Magic Man stated to be: a product of his nightmares. A Margles who was created for one function, but was deeply conflicted with another. I always figured the events on Olympus Mons were traumatizing for Magic Man, but my God, the way it’s presented in the episode really makes it as maddening as possible. After hundreds upon hundreds of years for searching for his wife, Magic Man finally is faced with the opportunity to see his wife again, though it all proves to be a complete failure. After dedicating his life to such work, it’s no wonder Magic Man gave up on his life almost completely. With all that he strived to do for his own good and the good of his wife, it simply ended up as an utter disaster. Which is where Betty comes back into the story…
After making countless attempts to save her fiance from the magic that possesses him, Betty is left with the magic, madness, and sadness that took control of Magic Man after the transmutator malfunctioned. Betty took her own dive in the pool of madness and sadness after trying to figure out how exactly magic makes other wizards and beings tick, though she ultimately took a dive too deep and was unable to resurface from it. As a resurfacing Simon silently mutters, “you forgot your floaties,” Betty finally realizes how far she’s submerged herself within the loomy gloom. She’s effectively surrounded herself with exactly what she was trying to fix, and follows in Magic Man’s steps of being completely stuck in her own purgatory of sadness at the hands of their loved ones. Without even realizing it at first, this episode really manages to parallel Betty and Magic Man to a tee, and feels like one of the most unique and ambitious character studies to date. It analyzes entirely how one character feels (Magic Man) but also shows how much it applies to Betty’s character as well. It really is an act of brilliance in just how much we learn about these two characters in the course of eleven minutes, with a heavy emphasis on the emotion that Adventure Time tends to capture better than any other: sadness. Of course, there’s the lovely and delightful ending that features the ultimate moment of triumph: Tiny Manticore flying Bread Boy Finn to Wizard City in order to save his humanity. A truly brave soul he is.
This one is truly amazing on all levels: the way it delves into its main characters, its beautiful setting (always love to see Mars), the unique dialogue, its presentation of sadness and madness, worldbuilding, lore, and much, much more. This is one that only seems to get better every time I watch it, and once again brings me back to my main point: this episode is about as unique as they get. Never in my life have I seen a story told this different in its connection to themes, story, and characters, and it’s one that continues to shock me in just how devoted it is to tell a compelling story, rather than to comply with what actually works with the common everyday television audience. As much flack as Moynihan gets, he really is a dude that’s dedicated to telling some of the most bizarrely ambitious stories that television has ever seen. And, as You Forgot Your Floaties proves, television could benefit from having more stories this ambitious and remarkable.