Adventure Time: "Billy's Bucket List"
A-

Adventure Time: "Billy's Bucket List"

The fifth season ends with a reveal that changes Finn forever

A-

Adventure Time

Billy's Bucket List

Season 5, Episode 52

Adventure Time grows and grows with every new episode, but no matter how expansive it becomes, the central focus is the story of the last human boy on Earth, learning the reality of growing up while living in a bright fantasy world. This season, the series explored the characters in Finn’s life more heavily than ever, but the writers made sure Finn evolved while other figures were spotlighted. He’s learned revelations about his past, tackled budding adolescent impulses, and experienced major romantic rejections, and in tonight’s season finale, Finn makes a discovery that changes his life forever.

The final minute of “Billy’s Bucket List” drops a major plot-bomb that gives the series an exciting direction for next season, and while the events leading up to the cliffhanger aren’t quite as provocative or substantial as the last few episodes, they represent all the things that make this show such a great 10-minute oasis at the beginning of the week. The episode starts with a rap battle between Finn and Rap Bear, emceed by Party Pat, which shows a different side of music on this series. The gritty rap beat of the battle is a huge shift from last week’s rich, flowing melodies, and while the music is used for comedy in this sequence, it would be fascinating to see this show try a hard-hitting dramatic hip-hop number.

That first scene is a combination of music, comedy, and adorable visuals, all essential components of the Adventure Time formula, and when Finn is reminded of his dead hero, Billy, the episode incorporates the Jack Kirby influence that has made its action so impactful and kinetic. From his “last boy on Earth” gimmick to his fondness for jean shorts, Finn is the spiritual successor of Kirby’s Kamandi, and Billy has a design that takes Kirby’s aesthetic and combines it with heavy metal album artwork.

When Billy’s ex-girlfriend Canyon appears to ask Finn for his help, the episode shifts into a more action-packed gear, beginning with a fight against fairies in “Billy’s crack.” Jordan, King of the Fairies, is first de-pantsed and then decapitated by Finn’s leaf sword, which is a quick, but brutal way of getting rid of a pixie infestation. Later in the episode, Finn will wonder if the sword is acting on its own, and in the fairy fight, it’s likely that Finn gets rid of the pants while the sword goes straight for the head. A weapon with a thirst for blood attached to a noble hero is a very fun dynamic, but Finn may need that extra edge considering where his journey is heading.

Inside “Billy’s crack,” Finn finds his hero’s uncompleted bucket list rolled in the gas task of his massive motorcycle. One of those tasks is telling Finn that one thing, and the other is taking Canyon on one last joyride, so Finn decides to hop on the hog and take his giant lady friend out for some two-wheeled monster fighting in the desert—a fitting tribute to the memory of the man they both loved. Canyon tells Finn that he reminds her of Billy when he was Finn’s age, and he takes that as an opening to hit on her because that’s just where his hormones are at right now. She’s not interested, but she tells him that their paths will probably cross in the future.

After his joyride, Finn discovers that there’s one last task on the bucket list that he missed earlier, requiring him to float on his back in the ocean. Finn’s fear of the ocean was established way back in season one’s “Ocean Of Fear,” and the Fear Feaster returns this week to keep Finn afraid of the giant body of water that could potentially contain the answers to his mysterious past. The young Finn in season one was warned that he would never be able to be a hero if he was afraid of the ocean, and now that he’s growing into the role he was always meant to have, he has to finally abolish his fear and give himself over to the waves. Finn accomplishes this by knocking himself out with a wooden plank while standing at the edge of a dock, going on a hallucinatory near-death experience when he falls in the water and sinks down to the bottom.

Trippy psychedelia is another major ingredient of this series, and “Billy’s Bucket List” delivers a heavy serving when Finn finds himself underwater. Finn regains consciousness when his hat is pulled off his head by a whale, and as he makes his way to the surface, it’s revealed that the cavern he fell into is actually a giant version of his ubiquitous headwear. It comes to life and starts coming after Finn, and after Finn breaks the neon pink surface of the water, the whale from earlier appears inside the giant hat to join the fight. It’s a manic neon-colored sequence that turns up the WTF factor, and while it’s open to all sorts of interpretations, I’m going to assume that Finn’s hallucination is his goodbye to childhood.

The hat could symbolize the youth that Finn is moving further away from but doesn’t want to leave behind, a monster that Finn has to conquer if he’s going to fulfill his heroic destiny. (Or it could just be a weird, fun visual.) Finn’s fear of the ocean is one of the vestiges of that youth, and he needs to cut himself free from it if he’s going to grow. When Finn wakes up from his hallucination floating in the water with the Fear Feaster rambling, the Leaf Blade slices the spectre and frees its owner of his Thalassophobia. Finn can’t be afraid of the ocean anymore. He has bigger things ahead of him, and he can’t let fear of any kind stand in his way.

Having accomplished all the tasks on Billy’s bucket list, Finn is visited by the spirit of his hero and gets the chance to ask Billy about that thing he wanted to tell him. Billy was supposed to tell Finn that his human dad is alive and waiting for him at the Citadel, casually delivering a revelation that dramatically alters the course of this series moving forward. The shot of Finn floating in the ocean, completely isolated in the moment when he learns that he has biological family somewhere out there in there in the universe, would be a strong enough image to end the episode on, but the writers take the cliffhanger to another level by giving viewers their first peek at Finn’s father.

The action cuts to the Citadel, a crystal palace floating in a sea of bright pink, and then shows the shadow of a figure that we can assume to be daddy dearest. The setting and silhouette of the character have a distinctly Kirby feel, suggesting that the future of this series will be moving from post-apocalyptic Kamandi territory into the sci-fi family drama of New Gods, and that tiny little glimpse at the future makes the wait for next season a lot harder. As Finn grows, so does this series, and I can’t wait to see how the Adventure Time creative team tops itself as it goes into the sixth season with the added momentum of this final reveal.  

Stray observations:

  • Completed items on Billy’s bucket list: Punch that jerky camel; Draw on a computer; Beat the Lich; Drink sea lion milk; Make some Kombucha; Find a new spirit animal; Make a website; Learn how to play flute.
  • Reason why Jake isn’t in tonight’s episode very much: He’s in denial about Billy’s death, so he just keeps away from Finn.
  • Finn using Billy’s loincloth as a cape is really gross. Especially when the other characters comment on the smell.
  • The colors in this episode are just beautiful, especially in the backgrounds. The background artists are really going for more expressive, vivid color palette this season.
  • “I wrap for mill-i-ons… Sesquipedalians!” And the crowd goes wild!
  • “I love rap music, but only when it’s good rap.”
  • “It’s time to go see Billy’s crack.”
  • “Tell Canyon I watch her sleep. Man, love is weird, Finn.”

More TV Club