Adventure Time is back with a brand new miniseries and an episode to guide us through from where we left off with “Islands”. I’ll fully admit that I was skeptical when “Elements” was announced on such short notice so soon after the previous eight-parter. But once again, the show is on the top of its game as Season 8 continues to amaze. This review will include “Orb”, the single episode stuck between two grand storylines. It does deserve its own post and maybe one day it’ll get it, who knows. For now, I’ll go over it relatively quickly, as “Elements” is a massive story to cover.
We join our heroes, Finn, Jake and BMO on their way back to Ooo from Founders’ Island. After having eaten way too many bananas, they go to sleep and have nightmares that eventually cross over. The cause for their weird dreams is a mysterious orb and “Nightmare Princess”. She wants bananas and therefore haunts Finn and the others in their dreams. They let her take as many as she wants, in exchange for something “pretty and/ or cool”, so she gives them a crystal bottle of nightmare juice and leaves. Afterward they finally get close enough to Ooo to see it and BMO glimpses the land that is now clearly divided into four.
When I first sat down to watch “Orb”, I expected it to be more of a bridge between “Islands” and “Elements”, but it was a valid episode on its own right. It serves as the connecting episode in a way, and it’s full of foreshadowing for “Elements”, with the four elements being all over the place. But I have to admit, at its core “Orb” is a nightmare episode. AT has been known to do them before, and rather brilliantly at that. Compared to Season 4′s “King Worm” this was a more relaxed episode, and surprisingly enough the stuff with Nightmare Princess that happened outside of the dreams was the most disturbing element. The resolution is simple in a way that only Adventure Time could pull off. But, because of Nightmare Princess’ gift I have a feeling that we’ll return to the concept later on.
The nightmares for the three characters were full of symbolism (just like Jake said) and analysis fuel. It deserves more than I have time for now, but it’s worth mentioning the basics: Finn dreams about having the ability to float, having his normal arms, being pulled into the ground by grass, and PB’s teeth falling out. That last element has had many interpretations throughout the decades. For us, the most applicable one is fear of change. It’s fitting for what Finn has been and will be going through, as well as the fact that he tries and fails to help Bubblegum.
Jake dreams about their old house and family. He dreams about Joshua, Margaret, and Jermaine, who probably really was there as it had been established that the two brothers randomly show up in each other’s dreams. More traditional nightmare elements turn up, like the Moon sucking Jake’s blood, reminding us of his phobia of vampires. When that happens the three dreams melt into one and Finn and Jake end up BMO’s dream. That one is full of all the MOs looking to BMO as their director. AMO returns to threaten BMO’s position as Finn and Jake’s friend and theatre/acting is a significant theme. Two minor but important details, especially in light of “Elements”, are the Shape-Shifter being present in Jake’s dream and the MO version of the Lich appearing.
With the very end of “Orb” we see the “four way pizza” that the Land of Ooo has become. “Elements” picks the story up there, so let’s look at the first episode of the miniseries.
As Finn, Jake and BMO leave the ship, Finn notices immediately that something is wrong with Ooo. Everything is pinker and somehow different. Jake reassures his brother that it’s just his new point of view playing tricks on him, all he wants is to go back to the Treehouse and relax after the islands adventure. Finn worries but BMO likes the change, especially when they get home and see that the entire Treehouse is made out of candy now.
More than that, Fern, Neptr and Shelby have all been turned into candy. Fern is “Fun the human” now, Neptr is made out of gingerbread, and Shelby is the gummy worm. They are all very happy about this and don’t remember their lives prior, which BMO loves, Jake dismisses, and Finn finds upsetting. He blames Fern for not looking after Ooo like he promised and has a feeling that Bubblegum had something to do with this. It’s a fair accusation and shows how Finn has grown out of idolizing her.
“Lemonpink” arrives and proves that even the sourest of beings have been turned into cheerful and, well, sweet candy people. This further fuels Finn’s determination to fix his friends, but Jake points out that they seem happy. Maybe they don’t need his help. Jake almost convinces him, but Sweet P shows up, still himself but upset over his parents turning into a piñata and an… ice cream elephant, I suppose. I always think that Lemongrab and Tree Trunks can’t get any more bizarre and then they do. Typical. This finally convinces even Jake that something weird has happened to Ooo while they were gone, so they decide to look for Bonnie.
The go to the tower that the others have been talking about (”Sours get the tower”) and encounter Marshmeline, the Campfire Queen. This happened just as I was thinking that Marcy might not be in this miniseries at all. Boy, how wrong I was. (Almost) everyone made an appearance, and her candy persona might be the best of them all. She’s very chill about the whole situation and offers to sing Finn, Jake and BMO a song “that will cheer up anyone who’s overwhelmed with work or responsibility” (so basically she wrote a song for her gf). Finn is way too impatient. He wants “Marshie” to lead them to PB, which she does gladly, while also humming Greensleeves. Which is something I never knew I needed, and yet my life without it seems incomplete now.
It turns out Bonnie is the tower, she’s been turned into a pure candy elemental who turned everyone around her into candy. She calls it ‘fixing’ them, but Finn calls her out on it (bless him). PB responds in a way that proves that even though she’s been zombied as much as everyone else, she’s still herself deep inside.
Finn: What about Tree Trunks and Lemongrab and Marceline and everyone else?
Bonnie: I fixed them, obviously.
Finn: “Fixed them?” But they are your friends!
Bonnie: Those aren’t mutually exclusive concepts.
Marshie: That means it’s fine.
Finn: No, it’s not fine!
PB’s answer to this confrontation is to fix Finn, Jake and BMO too. BMO is delighted, as they have been enjoying the whole experience way too much. As they are turning into candy Finn and Jake escape with the help of Ice King and his titular skyhooks (the coat hangers he used to discover Patience St. Pim back in “Elementals”). Ice King himself lives in the Cloud Kingdom now, safe from all the elemental biz going down in Ooo.
As a first episode to the miniseries and as a story in general, “Skyhooks” excelled. We have the suspense of finding out about Ooo along with our heroes, Finn’s determination, Jake’s denial, BMO’s delight. Seeing the residents of Ooo as candy was both weird in a way that, again, only AT could pull off and oddly satisfying, as we saw some amazing new character designs. “Skyhooks” was also heavily focused on the Candy Kingdom. But never fear, the other three kingdoms will get their own episodes as well. It was a fitting beginning for the miniseries, too. I actually preferred it to that of “Islands”, as it felt better paced and less of a pure setup. Nice episode to get us hyped for what’s next.
After their rescue, Finn and Jake realize Ooo is now a land completely dominated by the four elements and they turn to Ice King for an explanation. Being the IK, he takes his time. Eventually he explains what has been going on since the others left for the islands. Ice King didn’t know what to do with himself in the absence of his friends (oh how far we’ve come since Season 1, friends). Then Magic Betty appeared again, desperate to find a way to get Simon back. Ice King had no idea who she was but agreed to go on a date with her, because he’s still the same old IK looking for a princess. Besides, Betty is his original princess, even if he doesn’t know it.
When he told the Life Giving Magus about this (one of the many guest appearances in the miniseries), he insisted on getting a bespoke suit for the IK in Wizard City. When he was ready, he went to Magic Man’s old place to meet with Betty, who, using her magic powers took them into an illusion of the past so they could have a date like the ones they used to have in the good old days. Betty, by the way, seemed relatively sane throughout the miniseries, and it’s clear that her one and only goal is to bring Simon back. She kept trying to remind him, but it’s no use, Ice King is just being his silly self so Betty gets fed up and storms off.
Ice King, poor thing, didn’t know what Betty’s (or as he keeps calling her, “Weird Lady’s”) problem was. Tiny Manticore gave Magic Woman some valuable advice, that “maybe [she’s] going after someone who doesn’t exist anymore”. He reminded her that she herself has changed, too. Seeing his point, Betty went back to the Ice Kingdom and took the first step towards accepting that Simon is the Ice King now. They had some fun with magical birds before Patience, Ice King’s roomie showed up and froze Betty in ice, having realized that she could use her magic to power an elemental spell. Using Magic Woman’s powers and that of the hypnotized elementals, Patience transformed Ooo into the four way pizza that Finn and Jake came home to.
“Bespoken For” is an obvious flashback episode, just like “Everything Stays” was to “Stakes”. Originally I thought it wasn’t quite as good as “Everything Stays,” but it serves a different purpose in a different storyline. It tells us the basics of what happened, although the fact that it was Patience’s doing was obvious from the beginning. But, the real point of “Bespoken For” is not really the fact that it’s the designated flashback episode. It’s that it is the designated Simon and Betty, or rather Ice King and Magic Woman episode. In a way, this episode stands out the most from the eight we’ve had, as it’s less about elemental business and more about two broken souls trying to find each other again.
Ever since “Holly Jolly Secrets” every episode dealing with Simon Petrikov in some way or another has been heartbreaking. The ones involving Marceline have been the highlights for the most part. But then “Betty” happened and the focus shifted more and more onto the tragic loss of a fiancé, rather than a father figure.
After going through the individual episodes I’ll write about the major themes of the miniseries as a whole and Betty and her mission play a major part in that. For now it’s clear that “Elements” serves as the continuation of not only the elemental arc, but also that of Betty. The miniseries in general has a very mature message, and it’s best displayed with this relationship.
The Ice King has told his story and now he plans to break into his old home with the help of Finn and Jake to get back his Weird Lady and confront Patience. Well, that last part is mostly Finn’s plan. They break into the dome that surrounds the Ice Castle and realize that just as some residents of Ooo have been turned into candy, others ended up as ice, like the Snow Golem (who was already snow but is now made out of ice) and Carol the cloud lady from “The Tower”. They sneak into the palace itself and end up in the basement, where, as IK notes, all of this has started. There they find Mr. Fox and all the other foxes, along with Choose Goose.
Carol alerts Patience of the intruders, and we see that the Ice Elemental has also changed. She’s still recognizably humanoid but bigger and seems to be made out of ice. She tells Finn what happened from her perspective in a rather blasé attitude, how she used Betty as a magic battery but her plan backfired and instead of embracing their powers, the elementals got overtaken by them. It’s still unclear what Patience really wanted. Based on the elemental ice statues and the party she threw, she genuinely wanted the elementals to get along.
In the meantime, Ice King finds Betty and decides to end the mission there. Finn and Jake also leave, mostly because Jake was beginning to turn into ice. Patience lets them, as she’s grown quite nihilistic since the elemental spell and doesn’t believe it matters anyway. Ice King makes both Betty and Jake feel better with his chicken soup (nice throwback to “Simon & Marcy”) and Betty reveals that there is one thing that could help Ooo get back to normal: the Enchiridion. The bad news is that the book was destroyed when the Lich used it to get to Prismo. The good news is that Finn snatched the Farmworld version. The episode ends with an ominous Betty laugh, because sure, she has every intention to help Ooo instead of Simon.
Even though “Winter Light” is a crucial episode in that we see what has become of the Ice Kingdom (and Betty returns), it felt like not much happened. The action slowed down a bit and will continue to do so in the next episode, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The confrontation between Finn and Patience might have been disappointing for some, especially those that hoped for an epic battle. But the truth is, Patience is not the enemy here. Sure, she caused Ooo to go completely elemental, but it wasn’t her intention and now she makes no effort to make life either better or worse for anyone.
The whole atmosphere of the Ice Kingdom with their depressive attitude was fascinating to me, but the moods and temperaments of the four kingdoms will be discussed later. It’s interesting to note that Jake came dangerously close to being consumed by that attitude and that the theme of trying to fix things continued.
Our heroes are hiding in the Cloud Kingdom while Betty tries to figure out how to work the Enchiridion. Finn is way too intense, so Jake takes him aside to calm him down. They both have a nap and end up drifting away on their cloud. When they wake up they realize that they don’t know where Simon and Betty are or how to get bak to them. At first Jake tries using his powers, stretching down and gliding, but eventually gives up and accepts their fate on the cloud, assured that it will work out somehow. Finn is not convinced, so Jake gives him a fake haircut.
During the haircut scene, Finn faces his emotions and admits that he blames himself for how the elemental stuff turned out. He calls himself selfish for leaving Ooo. He also begins to doubt himself, thinking that maybe he wanted Fern to fail at protecting Ooo and prove that he’s not better than Finn. He feels helpless and just wants to fix everything. After Finn’s done with his haircut therapy it’s time for Jake. He admits that he’s worried for Lady and his kids and for all of Ooo, but he feels like he has to keep it together as the big brother.
In the end they agree that the situation is not as bad as it could be and have fun messing around. After meeting with an “angler lard” that Finn names Cloudy, they get back to Betty and Ice King, where the former has come to the conclusion that they need the crown jewels of the elemental princesses to use the Enchiridion. Finn is delighted that they finally have a legit plan and is much more chill now.
So here’s the thing. “Cloudy” is most definitely what people could generally call a filler episode. Apart from the revelation of the jewels at the very end, not much happens plot-wise; it’s just Finn and Jake hanging out and facing their feelings. The haircut therapy is in centre of the episode and that’s fine because this is an emotional one. It’s understandable that that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I didn’t mind having a filler that was still significant, just from another perspective. Finn and Jake earned this chill moment when they finally got to talk to each other about how they feel.
The whole episode is also a nice reminder that despite people sometimes describing the show as “Finn and his dog having adventures”, it’s Finn and his brother. This relationship is the core of the show (it’s Adventure Time with Finn & Jake, after all). That often gets taken for granted, but “Elements” serves as a reminder that that shouldn’t be the case).
Now that Finn knows what to look for, he heads down to the Slime Kingdom along with Jake to find Slime Princess and get her crown. After quoting Nietzsche (as you do), they find that the kingdom is empty save for one giant skating party. Every slime person (including Breakfast, Blueberry, Hotdog and Turtle Princess, Abracadaniel, and Party Pat) lives to party now, and more importantly “skates to assimilate”. When the Snack Pack skates it out with “Party Splat”, Finn and Jake find out that in this kingdom if you win, you get “Glorious absorption”. That is, the Slime Queen (former Slime Princess) absorbs you into her body. How very weirdly AT.
Determined to get the crown that’s inside Slime Queen, Finn teams up with Jake and LSP (Lumpy Slime Princess) to win a skate battle but they lose. Not to worry, because even the losers get absorbed, although they get a shameful absorption instead of a glorious one. Finn gets the crown but can’t get Jake to pull them out. Instead Jake gives in to the comforting feeling of slime and gets absorbed. Shocked, Finn is ready to give up too, but thanks to Slime Queen being unable to absorb LSP the two of them get rejected and therefore escape. Finn is heartbroken that Jake is gone, but LSP, who’s been the same old Lumpy Space Princess all along, snaps him out of it and they continue with the mission.
I expected the least from “Slime Central”, given how the Slime Kingdom has always been the least significant out of the four elements. Slime Princess herself is undoubtedly a less important character than Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, or Flame Princess ever were (and even less important than Patience). But what a positive surprise this episode was, despite the straightforward and simple plot.
It might sound simple, but it’s also gloriously bizarre. “Slime Central” very much reminded me of early Adventure Time, but because we have context to all the weirdness going on, it was much funnier and just generally well-handled. The dialogue in this episode was simply golden, it produced some of the best AT lines, such as “I’m having the slime of my life” and, my personal favorite:
Amazing logic, can’t argue with it. The whole concept of Slime Princess rewarding and punishing the slime peeps by absorbing them into her body is so surreal but so hilarious in context that I couldn’t help but feel good after watching this episode.
More than that it also featured the crucial moment of losing Jake to one of the elements. It was threatened with candy but both he and Finn got away. Then he came dangerously close to turning into ice but that, too, was avoided. But now, his party spirit combined with his laid-back attitude and the wish to escape the world’s problems made him an easy victim. So he didn’t just turn into slime, he became part of Slime Princess. It was at this point in the miniseries when I was convinced that the effects of the elemental spell could be reversed because we can’t lose Jake, but the stakes were raised nonetheless.
On the way to the Fire Kingdom Finn mourns the loss of Jake, despite LSP’s best efforts to get his mind off of it. When they arrive, Betty casts a protection spell on Finn and Gunther so they can go search for FP in the extremely hot land, and LSP goes with them. She doesn’t have protection but she says she doesn’t need any. She’s immune to the elemental shenanigans, which Finn finds weird and rightly so. They meet Fire Wyatt, who’s a blue flame being just like everyone else and is extremely violent, just like everyone else. They fight him off and Finn shows signs of violence himself.
They then meet with “Lady Flamicorn”, whom I didn’t expect to be a fire person of all things but there she is, attacking Finn in all her fury. Cinnamon Bun, of all people, scares her off, as he’s still normal thanks to the flame shield that covers him. He leads Finn and the others to where they can find FP but refuses to go further. When they get underneath the throne room they see that the Fire Kingdom is indeed a mess. Everyone is senselessly attacking each other and Phoebe has been turned into a blue flame dragon. Finn claimed he’d be able to talk to her, but he can’t. She swallows the jewel and Finn finally snaps, turning into a fire elemental. Gunther also turns, because that’s what happens when you bring the Lord of Evil to the land of anger and violence.
LSP is desperate not only for people to pay attention to her but also to stop fighting. She screams at them to be more like the peaceful candy people or like her. Flame Princess sees her point but twists her words and decides to lead an attack on the candy “nerds”. LSP unintentionally ended the isolation of the four kingdoms resulting in the fire elementals marching towards the tower, towards PB. (Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.) Cinnamon Bun, a candy person who at heart belongs to the Fire Kingdom ends up saying “surely this is the end of all things”.
With the second half of “Elements” things really getting going, and going south in “Happy Warrior”. The fire peeps declaring war on the candy people was sort of an expected twist. If one examined the (gorgeous) title cards before watching the episode, Finn turning into a fire elemental didn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking in its own way. After the loss of Jake, Finn let the Fire Kingdom’s anger get to him. Now it’s down to LSP, Ice King, and Betty to save Ooo, which is worrisome thought for sure.
It was a relatively small thing but I loved how Finn and Phoebe’s relationship was portrayed this episode. It began with Finn being confident that he could talk to her because they “used to bond over music and stuff” and LSP thinking that he still has feelings for her, saying stuff like “honestly, I could still see those two working out”. They are working out (when not being taken over by elemental magic) but as friends. Finn pointing out that their friendship is precious was crucial for them. Ship it or not, this relationship is perfect as it is right now. Well, not right now but in general. It really shows how much Finn has grown, and we saw even more of that with regards to his relationship to PB in ”Elements”.
The fire elementals are matching towards the Candy Kingdom and LSP can’t stop them. She tries to snap Finn out of it but it’s no use. The candy people are way too sweet and don’t mind being invaded. Even for PB it’s more amusing than anything. Flame Princess gets into a fight with Marshie, which is actually the first interaction the two ever had. It’s a shame it had to happen this way. Even Ice King comments that he and Betty are either the only sane people left in the world or the world is normal and they are crazy. But saving Ooo is left to them either way.
Except that there’s also LSP, who’s admittedly not the most selfless resident of Ooo, but she is trying her best on this occasion. When Marshie gets burned she rushes to her friend (BrOTP since “Princess Day”) and confesses all her worries. Marshmeline being Marshmeline, she just offers LSP some marshmallow that takes the latter to her “happy place”. Inspired, LSP tries to bring Finn back by taking him to his happy place using Bubblegum’s… well, bubble gum.
“Elements” was full of beautiful moments, but Finn’s happy place being his friendship with PB is definitely a Crowning Moments of Heartwarming. Yet another excellent example of Finn’s growth, it’s not only the relationship that he built with Phoebe that showcases how he’s matured, but also how his crush on PB developed into their strong platonic bond. From what I gathered, some saw this as a hint toward a potential renewal of their romance, but I saw anything but that. This was the pinnacle of “The Pajama War”, which is all about their friendship.
After Finn becomes his human self again, he gets PB’s jewel and therefore prompts Bubblegum to end “this charade” and transform even the fire elementals into candy. Flame Princess herself turns into candy and she coughs up the jewel, which Finn takes to Betty along with Bonnie’s. In a twist that only came as a surprise to Finn, Betty “Betty-trays” him and instead of fixing Ooo she flies off with the Enchiridion, the jewels, and Ice King. Finn is left on his own as PB’s candy zombies all sing a creepy rendition of Bing Crosby’s “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”.
At this point it’s almost tradition that the last two episode of the miniseries are the most connected to each other and form one big final, which also means that “Hero Heart” felt less action-packed than other AT episodes. Exciting things did happen, but it took the fire elementals half the episode to get to PB and normally, this show’s pacing is much better than that. Nonetheless the episode does stand on its own as an excellent one, and as I said it was the bringing back of Finn in particular that made it special.
In a way it also “revealed” Bubblegum as a kind of antagonist for the miniseries. In these final two episodes she is the one that really poses a threat. “Elements” started out with Patience as the obvious enemy, as it was clear from the beginning that she caused Ooo to be overpowered by the four elements. But as of “Winter Lights”, she ceased to be a factor. She did cause it all, but she had no intention of doing anything more than that. Now, it seems that at first it was Flame Princess with her “down with the nerds” attitude who caused real concern, but Bonnie transformed her and everyone else with ease. The quest now is to stop her from turning everyone into quasi candy zombies, even if it’s with the best of intentions.
After she “Betty-trayed” him, LSP saves Finn from the candy zombies. PB is still not satisfied, so with the power of love a duet with Marshie she starts transforming the citizens of the other kingdoms. Patience freezes herself again, thinking that maybe she can try to bring together the elementals in another thousand years. In the meantime, Betty reveals that her plan with the Enchiridion was to fix Simon all along. Looking at Ice King and the sad and pathetic man he is is driving her mad. She doesn’t know if she can fix him as he is, so instead she’s planning on going back to the past and preventing Simon ever putting on the crown. She even thinks of preventing the Mushroom War, which horrifies the cameoing Cosmic Owl and Prismo.
In one of Ice King’s best scenes he demands respect for the person he is and urges Betty to just talk about it. He accidentally messes up the spell and transports Betty to Mars, where Normal Man makes his disapproval clear.
Back in Ooo, Finn tries to figure out what makes LSP so special and why the elemental stuff doesn’t affect her. He realizes that “lump” is the anti-element, the fifth element that is not part of Ooo, not really. He then tries to crack the secret of lump so that he can fix his friends, but LSP gets fed up with him trying to tell her what to do. And that right there is the essence of lump, which attracts the elemental jewels and sets off a chain reaction that transforms Ooo and everyone there back to normal. More specifically, LSP’s anti-element restores everyone to their pure essence, and so most people just turn back to how they were before the elemental madness.
But, it has different effects on others like Jake. LSP doesn’t just restore him to being Jake the dog; instead he turns into the shape-shifter that impregnated Joshua (which is still bizarre to write down). The miniseries ends with Finn promising Jake that they’ll fix this, whenever, but all Jake has to say is that he loves his brother.
What an end that was. I’m going to write more about certain themes and aspects of the miniseries in a minute, but what needs to be mentioned here is that at the end of the day, after all the elemental biz was over, it all came down to Finn and Jake being supporting and loving brothers. And that’s crucial. Just like with “Stakes” and “Islands”, the very first scene was crucial to the overall message of the miniseries. In this case, it was Finn and Jake arriving back home and dealing with the consequences. For the remainder of the season and the series, seeing what happens to Jake is going to be one of the major issues, and hopefully his relationship with Finn will gain bigger focus.
Four Zones and Temperaments
Moving on to the bigger picture and overall themes in “Elements”, let’s start with, well, the elements. After seeing what PB is like now in “Skyhooks” I watched the remaining episodes with one particular thing in mind: getting to the bottom of what the spell brought out the elementals. At first, I thought it was just the augmentation of pre-existing mindsets, so Bubblegum’s need to control and protect resulted in her viewing the transformations as fixing her friends. But then, Patience’s nihilism didn’t really fit. Even if she was disappointed with how everything turned out, that was in sharp contrast to her previous enthusiasm. It was after “Happy Warrior” that a theory was born: the four elements represent the four temperaments. Candy is phlegmatic, ice is melancholic, slime is sanguine, fire is choleric.
We have to consider the exaggerated versions of the four temperaments, but I think it works. One of the main characteristics of phlegmatic people is that they are calm compared to other elements, which is certainly there with the candy elementals. They all live together in peace and have fun. If someone is not happy “they get the tower”. Though happiness is more associated with the sanguine type and Bubblegum herself doesn’t necessarily fit the phlegmatic category, it’s still the best way to describe the new Candy Kingdom.
Melancholic people are associated with melancholy, surprise surprise, and that fits with this new dark and depressive Ice Kingdom where nothing really matters. I originally took it for nihilism, but that does fit the melancholic picture. In the Slime Kingdom, partying and social life is everything. They skate to become part of each other, literally, and it’s considered a punishment if someone is stripped of their skating rights, which is the definitive activity. As sanguine people are perceived as being the most social and energetic, they fit the temperament almost perfectly.
Finally, there’s the Fire Kingdom, where people became a much more violent version of themselves. It goes without saying that not all people with choleric temperament are aggressive, but it is the most likely type. Plus, fire people also have a desire for dominance and pride. Obviously, this is just one way of looking at it and after thinking of this I did watch an interview with Adam Muto, the current showrunner. He said that the elements are dominated by emotions, so candy became the sweetest version of itself, ice is bleached of emotion and color, slime became an indulgent non-stop party, and fire became super aggressive.
In whichever way you choose to perceive the four way pizza that is Ooo during this miniseries, the concept is without a doubt a fascinating one. Adventure Time’s take on the elements mythos is a perfect reflection of the show itself; it’s a bizarre twist on our expectations, but one that works because of humor, world-building, and deep undertones. Then there’s the idea of the fifth anti-element, which I’ll be honest, didn’t entirely convince me. I thought it was a bit of an easy way out and a convenient solution, but we’ve always known LSP was special.
At first I thought discussing what elements the characters turned into would be interesting, but having seen the whole miniseries it’s actually not all that significant. Sure, Jake’s and Finn’s transformation were important to the plot, but mostly we just got a bunch of characters in each kingdom as a celebration of the show, which I’ll talk later. Not that I mind, we had Grey DeLisle back as Breakfast Princess and that alone was a good enough reason. But I feel like there’s not much to say here. What I will say though is that Marshmeline the Campfire Queen is the best twist on a name. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad Marceline turned into marshmallow.
“Fix it, don’t fix it, the universe is an abyss of suffering”
One of the reasons it took me a while to see a pattern in what the four elements represented was that I thought the whole fixing things aspect was PB’s and the Candy Kingdom’s characteristic when in reality it was the theme of “Elements” in general. Bubblegum was an integral part of that, but only one of many. These include Finn wanting to fix Ooo and then Jake, Betty wanting to fix Simon, and perhaps even Patience wanting to restore the elemental balance counts. From the get-go we get the feeling that something is off and it’s up to Finn to fix it, like he always does. But there’s also the sense that maybe this time it won’t be that easy. With Cinnamon Bun’s comment we get an ominous feeling, Patience makes us see the futility of it, and Betty helps us realize that sometimes we just can’t force it.
Finn’s need to fix things comes from his role as the hero of Ooo and the responsibility he feels for how things turned out. He feels like his emotional trip to Founders’ Island was selfish and he’s at fault, which is not true of course, but that’s his justification. He tries so hard that he stresses out, which is when big brother Jake comes to the rescue. That’s why having Jake end up being the one who’s been changed by all this is crucial. Now Finn faces the problem of his brother having been changed and not knowing how to fix him, or whether to fix him at all. Jake is still Jake, right? So why would he need fixing? Maybe he doesn’t need Finn to fix him. Maybe the elements helped Finn realize that what he told Bonnie in the very beginning is true for him too.
Speaking of, I cannot wait to see the aftermath from PB’s point of view. “Jelly Beans Have Power” was the perfect prelude and I fully expect a follow-up episode where we see Bubblegum dealing with the consequences of what she’s done. She wasn’t in control, no one was, but in some ways the elemental spell still reflected her deepest desires. What I loved about this is that her actions were perfectly understandable based on previous seasons. She just wanted everyone to be together and happy, by whatever means necessarily.
The pros of this are best seen in “Skyhooks”, where Lemonpink is shown to be happier than Lemongrab ever was or ever could be. Then there are the cons, as seen in the last two episodes. I don’t think Bubblegum as she is in her normal state of mind would go this far, but at some point in the series she would have, or at least there’s definitely a version of events where she could have. I hope the character herself acknowledges that. It’s best summed up with the “[they] aren’t mutually exclusive concepts” line. At this point I wouldn’t just be disappointed if we didn’t get an episode like this with Bonnie reflecting on it, I’d be rather surprised.
Then we have Betty, whose whole arc ever since she appeared on screen was that she wanted to find a way to fix her fiancé. I didn’t expect her story to take this turn when first watching “Betty”, but that’s the beauty of this show. In general, the fixing theme was very mature with an important message, but no other subplot demonstrates it more than that of Simon and Betty. The sad thing is that in “Bespoken For” we see Betty came close to accepting Ice King as he is, but then the elemental stuff happened and Betty gained false hope with the Enchiridion.
Maybe Simon will be back to his ‘old self’ one day, but “Elements” taught us that maybe he won’t and that Betty will need to accept that. I couldn’t help but think of Marceline, who still calls him Simon and wants others to do so, but also accepts Ice King more so than Betty was ever willing to. Their relationships with him were different of course, but Marcy shows how it is painful but can work. Meanwhile Betty refuses and instead chooses to live in denial. Her crazy plan landed her on Mars. I’m sure we’ll see where that goes, but whatever happens next this miniseries did teach everyone willing to listen a tough but valuable lesson. Maybe Simon is gone, but as Ice King himself put it, he’s still a person worthy of respect.
One other thing I kept in mind while watching “Elements” was that it needs to have consequences. With “Stakes” and “Islands” we had the world stay mostly the same. Instead, it was the effects the events had on the characters that counted. From “everything stays but it still changes” to Finn’s quest for answers about his origins, both were deeply emotional character arcs. “Elements” was different. It didn’t have a clear protagonist, so it has to have wider consequences. Well, Finn was the protagonist but not in the same way as he was in “Islands”. While watching the episodes I kept hoping that this time we would have more tangible effects, even though I’m all for pure character drama. Ooo itself was reversed back to normal, but we did get three possible consequences that could lead somewhere.
The first and most obvious is Jake being a pure shape-shifter now. As I said earlier, this is related to the theme of fixing / not fixing things. Whether he’ll get back to normal or not, this event is a worthy consequence of an eight-parter. The second thing is Sweet P, who was not transformed in the first place and so he didn’t need LSP’s lumpiness, yet it still had an effect on him. His broken horn grew back, which might be a hint at a potential reawakening of his Lich self. LSP supposedly restored everyone to their pure essence, after all.
The third little detail is Ice King’s crown and its third jewel falling out. This might be a hint at the Ice Crown becoming its own being and eventually becoming the Ice Thing, as seen in “Graybles 1000+”. It was missing that particular jewel, and at this point the show could be beginning to set up its final moments.
All in all I am satisfied that we have some actual consequences that I hope we’ll be dealing with. Not to mention all the sweet character moments that we could potentially get, as mentioned in the case of Bonnie, probably Finn and Jake, hopefully Phoebe, Marceline, LSP, Ice King, and Fern. So many possibilities, so many aspects to explore that now I’m a bit afraid that we only have one and a half seasons left.
Needless to say at this point, I loved “Elements”. I actually preferred it to “Islands”, though it’s not really fair to compare the two as they were very different. At first I was skeptical about not only a new miniseries coming so soon after the second one, but also the topic. The elemental mythos is not “old” compared to how long we waited for a proper Marceline backstory and the mystery of the humans to be solved. I honestly thought it would be resolved later on, perhaps in the last season. I’m hoping this is not the end of the elements saga, and a lot depends on that and where the rest of the series goes, but I didn’t mind having “Elements” now.
It felt like not just an epic story for the four elements, but also for Ooo itself. The number of minor characters who appeared is crazy; there were a myriad of cameos that served as a reminder of just how big Ooo is. It felt like a celebration of the show in a way that is a painful reminder of how close the end is. But “Elements” did need this. Like I said, this miniseries was less about one particular character and more about the world that they live in. I could say that the solution with LSP was a bit of a let down, but all in all I don’t have much to complain about. This story did deserve a miniseries, even if it was closer to the general plot than the previous two, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Adventure Time. Whenever that might be.
- “I feel just like Sheherezade” – good for you, Ice King. Seriously, bless Simon in all of this.
- The title cards are all gorgeous but full of spoilers if one examines them before watching the epsiodes.
- I can’t decide whether to headcanon Greensleeves or Let Me Call You Sweetheart as the new Bubbline song.
- Marcy wearing her What Was Missing outfit while being turned into sugar and becoming sweet.
- In fact, have cutie Marshie for getting this far in this review