After last season’s reality-warping finale, Adventure Time dives head-first into its fifth season with a two-part episode that examines the central pairing that makes this show so successful: Finn the Human and Jake the Dog. The former loves adventures and fighting, the latter loves hanging out and eating, and their respective worldviews color the two parts of this episode, aptly titled “Finn The Human” and “Jake The Dog.” “Finn The Human” is an action-packed, mythology-heavy chapter, while “Jake The Dog” is more focused on humor and relationships, and the result is a dense première that evokes nearly all aspects of this series.
It begins before last season’s finale, with Finn and Jake going through the portal opened by the Lich and finding themselves in Prismo’s time room. Prismo is a lonely, two-dimensional immortal who grants one wish to whomever enters his home, but there’s usually some kind of ironic twist attached. Kumail Nanjiani lends his distinct voice to Prismo, and he does a great job of portraying a character who is supposed to remain ambivalent but would really like a friend, so he acts friendlier than he should. The Lich wishes for the extinction of everything, so Finn in turn wishes that the Lich never existed, cutting to the world from the end of the finale, where Finn has a robot arm and a nose and Jake is just a cute, non-magical dog. Finn’s family is being hassled by the Destiny Gang and his mom (voiced by Mulan herself, Ming-Na) needs him to go to town and sell Bertram, the family’s beloved mule.
While on the way to town, Bertram inadvertently leads Finn and Jake to a cavern where a wrinkled old Marceline (voiced by the incomparable Cloris Leachman) watches over the corpse of her dead friend Simon Petrikov, who died preventing a mutagenic bomb from going off 1000 years ago by using his magical crown. When Simon died underneath the weight of the frozen bomb, the crown went crazy, encasing Earth in ice for 400 boring years. Finn doesn’t believe Marceline’s story because magic is totally fake, then takes the crown to sell it and save his family.
I always try to figure out what various Adventure Time characters symbolize, and I’m completely stumped by the Destiny Gang, particularly their androgynous leader Big Destiny. The Destiny Gang are bullies in the most juvenile sense, pushing people around and calling them names to establish their authority. Finn goes after the Destiny Gang when they run off with his crown and mule, but he’s no match for Destiny’s power. When you mess with Destiny, you get crushed, your family gets crushed. Maybe that’s what the gang represents: the immutability of fate and the certainty of Earth’s destruction. Because the only way for Finn to stop the gang is by putting on the crown and trading his sanity for power, saving his family but dooming the rest of the world in the process.
As Finn succumbs to the mad power of his crown, Jake is still in Prismo’s time room, making friends and bad wishes that Prismo refuses to grant. He initially wishes for a sandwich, but Prismo will just make him a sandwich so that he can use his wish on someone who really needs it, like his best friend who is quickly losing his mental grip. When Jake accidentally shoots his pickle out of his sandwich, Prismo gives Jake a whole jar of pickles, to which Jake responds that he loves Prismo, igniting a friendship that ends up saving the entire world—or at least brings it back to its former post-post-apocalyptic status.
Jake still has his one wish, but he has confidence in his bro and wants to see how Finn’s wish plays out before he uses his. That gives him the opportunity to bond with Prismo over relationships (Prismo doesn’t date because he doesn’t want to have a discussion of what he’s going to have for dinner every night) and soak in a hot tub with the Cosmic Owl, who brought board games, but whatever. The Cosmic Owl is voiced by Hollywood legend M. Emmet Walsh, and the prestigious lineup of guest stars this episode shows just how big Adventure Time has gotten since its humble beginnings.
When Finn’s ice powers crack open the ice shell encasing the mutagenic bomb, it explodes, unleashing a wave of ghostly green energy that is the life force of the Lich. It’s unclear how much of this can be applied to Ooo, but the writers probably didn’t include all this information just to have it mean nothing. So we can make an educated guess that the magical Land of Ooo was created after a mutagenic bomb went off, mutating everything on the planet over time so that candy would be alive and dogs would be stretchy. There’s still much more to be revealed, but it’s great that the writers are really committing to fleshing out the backstory of Adventure Time, because a more fully realized world is always a good thing.
As Jake, Prismo, and the Cosmic Owl beatbox in the tub, Finn is experiencing intense emotional trauma as he tries to use the power of frost to revive his dead dog, which then gets possessed by the Lich and transforms into a huge evil monster. Now would be a great time for Jake to use his wish, but Prismo warns him that he needs to be super-specific to avoid that ironic twist. The pressure of the wish plus the temperature of the tub causes Jake to vomit, effectively killing the fun. Because Prismo likes Jake, he walks him through the wish he wants to ask for, basically telling Jake that he needs to change the Lich’s wish so that he wishes for Jake and Finn to be sent back home rather than the extinction of everything.
It works out perfectly and everyone gets home happily ever after, with only Jake remembering all the crazy stuff that just went down. The magical jewels that opened the portal all fly back to their respective crowns, the world is saved, and Jake makes a new friend, receiving a jar of pickles from Prismo at the end of the episode along with a note that he’s free to hang out anytime. “I gotta get that guy a girlfriend,” Jake says, ending the episode on an irreverent silly note after an intense story. This two-parter is a nice change of pace, but it’s nice to be back in the rainbow-colored world of Ooo.
- Hey look, Pen Wards new cartoon Bravest Warriors debuted. Here’s the first episode:
- So Finn’s full name is apparently Finn Mertens. What does it mean?
- After Choose Bruce’s comic turn this week, this season looks like the perfect time to give Choose Goose a spotlight episode.
- I think the creators gave Finn a nose just so he can have it get all Ice King-mutated when he puts on his crown.
- “You know that was a ghost wearing a dead guy? That might be the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen. N-n-n-n-nasty. Nasty jazz!”
- “I have a lot nasty friends. My uncle is nasty. I’m basically honorary nasty.”
- “Bam! Crown shorts!”
- “Clap harder, trash bag.”
- “Hmmm, feels natural. Like peeing outside. Sort of.”
- “I want them to see me. I’ma go up there, AND SHOW THEM MY FACE!”
- “Whoa, alternate wish world Finn is mad uglies. Hey, I’m mad uglies, too!”
- “Yes, sometimes a well-intentioned wish can lead to…nuts.”
- “I warned you, you butt.”
- “You can take the sign off when you tell me where you hid daddy’s crown jewels.”