I love when an episode of Adventure Time ends and the first thing I say is, “What the fuck?” When all the princesses of Ooo wake up missing body parts, Finn and Jake begin and end their investigation at the home of the Ice King, who has sewn all the princesses’ part into his new Princess Monster Wife. “Princess Monster Wife” is one of those twisted Adventure Time stories that doesn’t give the viewer any time to catch up with all the weirdness that is happening on screen, and the general effect afterward is one of satisfied disorientation.
The episode begins with some great visual gags as the princesses reveal themselves to Finn and Jake, with Princess Bubblegum left without the ability to speak after the lower right portion of her face disappears. Hot Dog Princess tries to give Finn a kiss when he takes on their cause, and she struggles to drag her upper half to Finn’s lips as she climbs his body. The most obvious suspect is Ice King, and once Finn and Jake discover Princess Monster Wife, they slip into the background as Ice King takes center stage.
The sight of the grotesque Frankstein’s princess knocks Finn and Jake out, allowing the writers to delve into the demented relationship that develops between Ice King and his new wife. Ice King wants to have a normal life, and his first course of action as head of the family is having a nice family dinner with his new wife and their two unconscious guests. Ice King sees his actions as taking the best parts of everyone you love and combining them into one person, except all these parts can’t seem to figure out how to chew and swallow food. Ice King sees this as an opportunity of try something new, and decides to also let food fall out of his mouth as he eats. “Ooh, marriage is fun!” Ice King cheers at the dinner table, enjoying the honeymoon phase of his sudden nuptials.
After their family dinner, Ice King teaches his wife how to properly wash dishes. The writers could have easily depicted Ice King in a more unsympathetic light, but the tragedy of the episode is that Ice King genuinely cares about his new wife. Ice King serenades Princess Monster Wife with “Let Me Show You Something Special,” the suitably bizarre Adventure Time version of “A Whole New World” that features a stampede of see-through Ice Bison. At the end of the song Ice King reveals two sculptures made in their likenesses, and when Princess Monster Wife sees herself for the first time, she immediately knows that something is wrong with her.
All the favorite parts of Ice King’s princess crushes fail to create a functioning whole, and once Princess Monster Wife sees herself, she understands why Finn and Jake fainted. Ice King tries to convince her that they’re still a normal family, and he brings the still-unconscious Finn and Jake to the couch to sleep through some television watching. They even have a pet in the form of one of Ice King’s penguins, who hisses at Princess Monster Wife and reminds her of the ugliness Ice King is trying to distract her from. She runs into the kitchen, sees herself in the dishwater and screams, “You are not normal. You are a monster!”
Ice King’s absurd problem can be a metaphor for a slew or real-world issues, from how a person’s self-worth can affect a relationship to how difficult it can be to live up to the pressure of past lovers. Ice King’s final effort to improve his wife’s self esteem fails when his garbage couture runway show causes one of the penguins in the audience to vomit. Princess Monster Wife wants him to find a new spouse because she’s ugly and just a bunch of stolen parts, but Ice King tells her that he’ll love her even without the princesses’ other parts. Ice King only considers the physical traits, and once his creation is given life, her mind is unable to comprehend an existence of incompleteness.
Princess Monster Wife’s solution is to return all her parts to the princesses of Ooo, because now there will always be a part of each of the princesses that is Ice King’s wife. It’s a surprisingly effective death metaphor, with Princess Monster Wife finally achieving the cohesive existence she never found in life, and then Ice King ruins it all with the episode’s punchline: “She gave away all my stuff!” After last night’s Mad Men and the discussion of females on television in the Girls comments, it’s fun to see a children’s show tackle the topics of misogyny and female self-image. No matter how kind-hearted he may appear to be, Ice King is still deeply selfish. Once he doesn’t have his wife anymore, the love he showed for her before disappears and she becomes just another meaningless object that he briefly had and quickly lost.
- All Ice King’s penguins’ names are alterations of Gunther: Gunder, Gunter, Günther, etc. Works so perfectly with their identical design.
- “Oh my gosh, how many times do I have to tell you? Somebody broke into my house and stole my lumps!” Pendleton Ward’s Lumpy Space Princess voice makes me giggle every time.