Adventure Time: “BMO Noire”
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Adventure Time: “BMO Noire”

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Adventure Time

“BMO Noire”

Season 4, Episode 16

“BMO Noire.” The title alone is enough to make an Adventure Time fan salivate, and this episode delivers on all the ultra-adorable crime noir hilarity that its title suggests. BMO isn’t just one of the cutest characters on this show; he’s easily one of the cutest characters on television, and casting him as a hard-boiled private investigator is one of the best moves in a season of delightful creative decisions. The episode begins with BMO sitting alone, playing a videogame with himself, an image of loneliness that informs the wackiness that follows. When Finn can’t find his sock, BMO is on the case, unplugging his joystick and stepping on it like a cigarette. The episode switches to black-and-white as the sound of a cigarette going out is heard, signifying BMO’s switch into full-on detective mode.

This episode’s title card is a frayed pulp novel cover showing a detective, a femme fatale, and a weaselly bad guy against a 1940s backdrop. It’s probably the book that influenced BMO to create a crime noir fantasy within the treehouse, and his approximations of the pulp’s language and tone are where most of this episode’s humor comes from. “It looked like a tough case to crack,” BMO says after unplugging his joystick, “but I hate to see good friends fight. So I decide to take the case.” That case leads him to the treacherous mouse Ronnie, thieving remote control Bebe, and the chicken that is as beautiful as she is deceitful: Lorraine.

As we saw in “Five Short Graybles,” BMO is intensely lonely, but he simply creates things to keep him company. BMO is essentially a child living in an imaginary world, and because he’s a video game system, the lines between fiction and reality are especially blurred. Entire worlds exist within BMO when someone is playing a videogame, which makes it easy for him to transform ordinary reality into something more suspenseful and dramatic. None of BMO’s suspects can speak, but his internal speaker gives them voices, albeit ones that are just slightly modified versions of BMO’s. Niki Yang is a superstar this episode, providing the voices for BMO et al, and the character’s stilted speech pattern turns stylized dialogue like “Me and Lorraine are… dinosaur bones” into a hilarious punchline.

This episode completely commits to its detective noir concept, from the black-and-white visuals to the jazzy score and gruff voiceover narration. The music in “BMO Noire” is especially evocative, combining jazz horns and woodwinds with electronic sounds for compositions that are retro while still retaining Adventure Time’s signature audio style. The music adds a certain coolness to the story, and BMO has never looked more suave than when he’s chasing a rat across the living room while underscored by a flurry of percussion and horns.

Ronnie the mouse directs BMO to the pantry because of a grape juice stain on Finn’s other sock, but it’s a dead end intended to draw him off the real path of the missing sock. Our hero decides to interrogate his past lover Lorraine, who points BMO in the direction of Bebe, the innocent remote control that gets dragged into this mess. After an intense interrogation, BMO realizes that he’s been fooled again, and when he goes back to Bebe, he finds the remote control dead, his batteries brutally removed. BMO’s been framed, and the cat police have him cornered, prompting another jazzy horn and percussion chase sequence that ends with BMO falling down a ladder and passing out at the bottom.

“BMO Noire” is a weird episode, but when BMO passes out, it gets really trippy as he has an existential crisis. Between slow motion shots of Lorraine slowly applying lipstick and BMO punching a mirror in frustration, Finn and Jake express their worry that something is wrong with BMO. The hallucination ends with BMO turning toward the viewer with a human face, the same face that was on the title card’s book cover. BMO straddles the line between human and robot, and that burden is his to carry alone. When he wakes up to find himself face-to-face with pie-throwing robot NEPTR, BMO has the chance to make a friend, but he chooses to hold on to a fantasy rather than face the reality that he’s just a machine. “Hey, BMO, we should hang out more. We’re both robots,” NEPTR says. But BMO replies, “No, NEPTR. I am not like you.” With those solemn words, BMO embarks on the final leg of his journey.

When cat Officer Davis shows BMO a note written in lipstick, he finally realizes who is behind the theft. Standing outside the tree house with her loot, Lorraine flaunts her criminal genius, and BMO lets her go when she tells him where the sock is hidden. It was in their “secret grown-up kissing spot,” which makes BMO laugh and blush just thinking about it. With that, the episode switches back to adorable for the full-color conclusion as BMO presents Finn with his misplaced sock and tells the two all about his wild adventure. Finn is super proud of the little guy, who dances with joy at a job well done, but Jake needs clarification on one thing. “Our chicken’s name is Lorraine?” Jake asks. BMO responds with one of Adventure Time’s best closing lines: “She’s red hot like pizza supper.” And he’s completely right.

Stray observations:

  • I love that Jake doesn’t know what lipstick is for, so he just uses it to draw a big purple spiral on his face.
  • Check out the Comics Panel review of Marceline And The Scream Queens #1, Boom’s quite enjoyable spin-off to their Adventure Time comic.
  •  “How about if I put some knuckle in your eyeballs, would that help you think?”
  • “Maybe if he was man enough to steal a sock, I wouldn’t have to spend my nights with Bebe.”
  • “Sorry, lady, forgetting ain’t in my job description. Hehehehehe.”
  • “I’m gonna go wash this schmutz off my grabbers.”
  • BMO: “I feel like I got hit with a Dracula by King Cole.” NEPTR: “Whoa, sorry man. You want some pie or something?”

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