Adventure Time’s willingness to move away from its lead characters and explore the lives of its supporting cast members has made it one of the most captivating, richest cartoons on the air, but that type of expansion can also be problematic. In this show’s TV Club 10, I wrote that Ooo was becoming like The Simpsons’ Springfield in its scope. That series lost much of its focus when it began to place stronger emphasis on background players, and that’s something that the writers of Adventure Time need to be wary of moving forward. This hasn’t become an issue yet, but there are already fans that think the show has moved too far away from Finn & Jake, so it’s important that chapters following supporting characters have some way of making the lead heroes valuable parts of the narrative.
The last few episodes have shown that adventure can take many different forms, from survival horror story to character-driven detective tale to tonight’s exciting new personal endeavor for Tree Trunks: marriage. An episode succeeds if it’s able to capture the thrilling spirit of a dungeon crawl within these different circumstances, and “Apple Wedding” manages that with some clever editing and by setting up multiple plot threads that all converge at one chaotic moment. It’s centered on Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig’s marriage, but the episode also offers some further insight into the dark side of Princess Bubblegum’s personality while setting up a potential Candy Kingdom revolt for the series down the line.
Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig are getting married, but there are certain things that need to be dealt with if their nuptials are going to be confirmed, like keeping Lumpy Space Princess off the premises and separating Tree Trunks’ three ex-husbands so that they’re always 100 feet apart. But the biggest threat arises when Tree Trunks tells Princess Bubblegum that she doesn’t recognize her “authority” in officiating this marriage and has instead asked the one true King of Ooo to do the honors, sending PB on an ego trip that ends with the entire wedding party behind bars. The King of Ooo is a mysterious new character that looks to be a recurring protagonist for PB, a self-proclaimed monarch who operates in whimsical fantasy, rather than cold, hard science. PB is obsessed with revealing to the world that the King is a sham, so she decides to make Tree Trunks’ wedding the stage for some public shaming.
As PB breaks into the King of Ooo’s golden zeppelin, a newly deputized Finn patrols the grounds on LSP watch, and Cinnamon Bun handles the juice bar, where Tree Trunks’ depressed ex-husband Wyatt falls for everyone’s favorite anthropomorphic portable gaming device. BMO just wants to watch the wedding, but feels guilty about abandoning Wyatt after the man shares deeply personal details about his former marriage, including the traumatic tennis event that caused his wife to leave him because she felt stifled by their marriage. The Wyatt plot is a great way of appealing to older viewers who might connect more with feelings of disappointment and loneliness when confronted with the wedding, but more importantly, it serves as the major source of tension because that’s where Cinnamon Bun is shaking the bottle of cider that threatens to explode at any minute.
The King of Ooo actually is more devious than he appears, and he attempts to trick the bride and groom into servitude with their vows. At this point, LSP has appeared and gone into full-on Purple Party Hulk mode, PB is piloting the dovetailing zeppelin she’s broken into, and Cinnamon Bun is vigorously shaking Wyatt’s cider refill. The camera cycles through each of these events as the music swells, and Tree Trunks comes ever closer to accidentally becoming a slave with her new husband, and the increasing speed of the cuts builds suspense like carbonation in a bottle. Eventually, that tension will break, and it happens just before Tree Trunks says, “I do,” saving her from a horrific fate.
This past season has spent a lot of time showing how PB’s power has corrupted her, a choice that will hopefully lead to more conflicts like the final moments of tonight’s episode. When PB crashes a zeppelin into Tree Trunks’ ceremony and throws the King of Ooo in jail for no reason, Tree Trunks stands up to the blatant display of tyranny and ends up getting everyone thrown in jail. Mr. Pig points out that all their friends are still together in the cell, so they can continue the wedding, and Tree Trunks officiates the ceremony when the King of Ooo chews through his prison bars and tells them they can perform their own dang ceremony. It’s a happy ending to a day full of mishaps, even if Princess Bubblegum’s order to let the prisoners go free accidentally ends up setting all of the Candy Kingdom’s criminals loose. That last development should hopefully give Finn and Jake a lot to do in the coming episodes, but stories like “Apple Wedding” show that this series can still deliver when its main characters are in the background.
- If you were starving for new Adventure Time stories during the month-long break, I recommend checking out Boom’s new Adventure Time: The Flip Side miniseries, featuring a script by the Bandette writing team of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover and art by Wook Jin Clark. It’s a fun Freaky Friday-influenced story that’s a nice complement to the work being done in the main title, which is now entering its third year!
- King of Ooo also happens to be the name of the Adventure Time crew’s Tumblr, which is probably why he yells out “Kingofooo.com!” when he escapes.
- There sure were a lot of cute animals tonguing each other in this episode.
- “Wow, you look prettier than a sippy cup in a snowbank.”
- “Oh, but he is a saucy fine bolog-nah factory. Mmm-hmm. I’ll tell you what. I’d like to open up that hood, see how the bolog-nah gets made.” Tree Trunks’ mother is amazing.
- Mr. Pig: “Don’t you think there might be cameras down here?” Tree Trunks: “I hope so.” I always knew Tree Trunks was freaky…