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Everything Leads to the Gum War in Ooo

Guess who’s back, back again…Adventure Time! The four new episodes were released on the CN app more than a week before the official premiere, of course, but now they’ve aired on TV as well. These four are among the very last episodes, the penultimate bomb. Without any further ado, let’s see how they fared.

Blenanas

After Jake’s disappearance at the end of “The First Investigation”, Finn passes time by reading a Ble comic. He likes it so much that he comes up with his own jokes, but BMO and a preoccupied PB don’t react the way he thought they would.

Finn reaches out to Ice King, hoping that the lonely old man will appreciate his sense of humour, but he does more than that: he teleports the two of them to Ble headquarters to submit their ideas directly to the Ble editors. They fight their way through the guard, only to realize that the staff has been dead for centuries. Finn and Ice King don’t give up easily and with the help of the penguins, they print their very own version of Ble before destroying the office. On his way home, Finn wonders whether he’s as funny as he thought he was. When he gets back to Tree House, he announces to BMO (and Neptr) that he doesn’ t need them to think he’s funny anymore, but just at that moment he slips on a banana and causes both robots to burst out with laughter.

After Finn’s comments about continuing Ble and nostalgia, I had a feeling this was an Adam Muto episode since he continued from Pendleton Ward as a showrunner, but it makes sense for “Blenanas” to be a Patrick McHale (and Sam Alden) episode instead. As a creative director for the first two seasons, McHale shaped the early image of Adventure Time and some of that is echoed in this episode. It is wonderfully bizarre in good old AT-style, especially the Pudding troll who guards the office, but it’s more coherent and calm.

An iconic, unlikely duo

“Blenanas” is a standalone episode, or at least as close to being one as we can get this close to the finale. It’s also the very last one so it’s lucky that it encompasses so much of what has been unique about these kinds of episodes. It has the humour, the character dynamics, the references, the message. It’s also rewarding to see Finn and Ice King hang out like they are genuine friends, which they have become, I suppose. It’s also a quick character study of Finn and his sense of humour. As fast and as small as it is compared to everything else he’s been through recently, it doesn’t feel out of place or unnecessary.

“Blenanas” is basically on last calm chapter before the storm. After this, it’s space and Gum War and GOLB, the epic culmination of the whole show. This quiet throwback might not be for everyone: season 10′s jumping up and down in terms of what storyline it’s dealing with has been annoying as it is, and some might say that it was a waste to have this as one of the last episodes. But I like “Blenanas” for its simplicity and how it feels least out of place when compared to other standalone-ish season 10 episodes. Plus, we still have an excellent scene with Bubblegum preparing the Candy Kingdom for war, so there’s the continuity.

Jake the Starchild

While Finn is expressing himself through comedy, Jake travels to a distant planet with his alien dad. Warren Ampersand, the bio-dad, is dying and his planet needs saving from a monster, a monster that only Jake can defeat. Everyone on the planet knows about Jake and the prophecy, which Jake himself doesn’t mind since he gets free food and applauds. When it comes to doing the actual work, he finds that the more he stretches the weaker he feels. The supposedly dying Warren is feeling better and better though, and just when Jake reaches his limit he finally confesses. Warren tricked Jake into giving him his life power through the belt that he got for his “son”, just like he’s done hundreds of times before with other sons. Warren kind of feels bad about it this time and tries to cheer Jake up, transferring the life energy back to him unwittingly. When Warren finds out he’s been tricked and that Jake has kids of his own, he tries to go back to Ooo but Jake stops him by letting Warren get sucked into a black hole, thus killing his only chance of getting home.

“I’m going 4D, baby.”

So first of all, what I’ve learned from Adventure Time: biological dads are awful to their children. Seriously, the only decent father figures are Joshua and Simon, and as for the others, the least awful happens to be literal Satan. Warren gave Jake and Finn another thing to bond over by being even more of a jerk than Martin. His appalling behaviour doesn’t shake Jake all that much—he is Jake after all—but at least it “reminds him of what it means to be a good dad”.

So on the topic of that, here’s another okay dad who tries his best: Jake himself. Although the pups are only mentioned in “Jake the Starchild”, the parallels are clear. It’s been a rocky ride since “Jake the Dad” and all the other episodes that featured Jake with his kids, but we’ve been shown again and again that Jake’s truly trying. Sometimes he fails miserably and sometimes it seems like he’s not even doing his best, but he’s alright. Not just compared to Warren but in general, and sacrificing himself to save his kids? That was the way to prove it. With all that being said, there’s still a lot to be said about the relationship between Jake and the pups, and hopefully, we’ll get one last scene with them before the show ends.

“Jake the Starchild” isn’t just about messy parental dynamics, it’s also an excellent episode for Jake as a character overall. Everything about it is just so him, from being more upset about the pretzel than anything else to how the episode “The Limit” was mirrored. He’s not perfect, but he is a hero, a proud pop and a pretty cool guy. Add to that all the sci-fi stuff and the wrapping up of a major storyline and you have another great addition to the last chapter.

Temple of Mars

Five weeks after Jake left, Jermaine shows up at the Tree House and tells Finn about the dream he had about Jake being in space. Both are worried about their brother so they go to Mars to ask Normal Man’s advice. He is King Man now and sends Finn, Jermaine and now Mars resident Magic Betty to retrieve the space telemetry capsule that can help locate Jake. They have to go through a three-part puzzle first which is mostly related to Betty’s obsession with fixing Simon. Just as she’s about to accept reality, Jake appears. The puzzle was the telemetry capsule all along and it got Jake back while they were working their way through. Although the three brothers are happy, Betty hasn’t learned the lesson King Man intended for her, but rather she’s just even more ambitious to get Simon back and even wants King Man to face GOLB and get back his long-lost love, Margles.

Magic/ Normal/ King Man and Betty are back again, just in time for the grand finale. After “You Forgot Your Floaties” it’s interesting to see how Normal Man and Betty are interacting again but with their roles reversed. Normal Man has been trying to be good ever since he lost his magic and Betty has been descending into madness, but their lost loved ones still tie them together. After “Elements” I thought Betty would give up on saving Simon from the Ice Crown, but it seems like she really hasn’t learned the lesson and might just succeed. And now Normal Man might also try to get Margles back again, so this will make up one of the storylines for the finale. We’re finally going to see GOLB!

With the exception of one of the frogs being Fern in the first puzzle, everything was about Betty and Simon. The second and third ones, in particular, were all about showing Betty that she’s sacrificed so much and yet cannot stop the Crown from changing Simon. It wasn’t exactly subtle but not too ‘in your face’ either. It would have been nice for them to be longer, but there’s only so much that can be done in 11 minutes, and there was also the brothers’ side of the story to deal with.

These two, though

The Finn and Jermaine interactions were so refreshing and made me wish that the third brother was introduced much earlier in the series. It’s a shame how excluded Jermaine feels from the family dynamic, especially because one of the main focuses of the show is the relationship of Finn and Jake. At the end, when Jake returns and Finn runs to him, I almost thought that we’d have a bittersweet moment with Jermaine realizing that he can’t measure up to their relationship. It’s played for laughs when Finn mentions his lice and Jermaine freaks out, but that only highlights how different he is compared to the other two.

My only complaint would be that Jake’s rescue is way too convenient and the two sides of the story feel so different from each other that it’s obvious they were brought together because of the limited amount of episodes left. That being said, it’s still amazing how the creators pulled it off and “Temple of Mars” was excellent both for the emotional development and for the build-up towards the finale. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how Normal Man and Betty’s plan with GOLB and Simon fits into the upcoming Gum War. Speaking of which…

Gumbaldia

As everything else was happening in Ooo, Princess Bubblegum was preparing for war against her uncle. Finn tries to convince her that war has done nothing good for the world so far, but PB believes that Gumbald is forcing her hand by building his own army. Finn decides to go to Gumbaldia with Jake as a diplomatic mission and convince the other side to stop before it’s too late.

At first, it seems like Gumbald will not listen, but after Finn and Jake save him from an accident he agrees to sign a peace treaty. Cousin Chicle brings the celebratory bucket and pours it on the brothers, who are told to give PB a big hug. When they get back to the Candy Kingdom, it’s Peppermint Butler who gets some juice on him and Bubblegum discovers that it’s Gumbald’s “dum-dum solution”. Enraged, she declares war on Gumbaldia, just as her uncle rallies all the Candy Kingdom’s enemies to declare war in return.

So “Gumbaldia” is all about propelling the story into the finale. It was good to see Aunt Lolly be an actual character and mini-confrontation between Finn and Fern. Gumbald continues to be rather one-dimensional, but maybe the last episode will change that. It would have been nice to finally see him and Bonnie interact for real, but I suppose that is left for last. All the other villains appearing at the end was nice call-back to even one-off antagonists, although I doubt that their role is going to be anything bigger than this. Maybe with a few of them, like Ricardio and Ash, but other than that I don’t believe we’re actually going to see much of these minor characters.

Finn’s comments about war, violence and his growing empathy were a bit on the nose but important regardless. Since his character development is arguably the most important aspect of the show, it’s good to be reminded of how much he’s grown. He and Jake are adorable in this episode and make for an excellent pair, as always. As for PB herself, he character development has also been leading up to this: from devoting her life to the Candy Kingdom to losing it once and going easier on her citizens, this is gonna be the test of how far she’s willing to go to save her kingdom. Whatever happens, whatever she decides to do, it sure will be fascinating to see how the Gum War unfolds.

Also, as a side note: I say some things were a bit on the nose, but this is still a kids’ show. The things going down in this episode are already dark enough so there needs to be some kind of overt positive message. Only then can you have PB saying stuff like this:

“Finn, we all love how sweet you are, but sometimes we just have to buckle down and do things the ugly way.”

Closing thoughts

These four episodes feel like a worthy penultimate bomb. “Blenanas” has a hint of nostalgia and provides some quiet moments before the storm. “Jake the Starchild” proves once and for all what Jake is made of and closes a long-running storyline. “Temple of Mars” reintroduces Normal Man and Magic Betty, preparing them for their parts in the final battle. And finally, “Gumbaldia” provides the casus belli for the Gum War. Out of all the bombs lately, this felt the most balanced and well-spaced, providing us with enough to further the plot but also not forgetting the show’s adventure of the week roots. There are still questions left that need to be answered but for the first time in season 10 it feels like we’re going to get those answers.

epiThe episodes also had the theme of empathy and growth, both of which might be the morel focus of the finale. There’s also the potential build-up towards the future presented in “Graybles 1000+” to consider. Will the Ice Thing exist, and is it still Simon? Is Chicle going to be Crunchy forever now? The Gum War will decide everything.

As further preparation for the end, Cartoon Network released a teaser for “The Ultimate Adventure” and it’s reasonably epic:


Images courtesy of Cartoon Network

Author

  • Szofi

    Szofi is gradually exploring the depths of animation fandom and she is currently reviewing Doctor Who. Recent graduate, cereal enthusiast, frequent traveller.

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